Solicitor blames launching firm on eve of Covid for rule breaches

Covid: Difficult time for solicitor

A solicitor has blamed the difficulties of becoming a law firm owner for the first time shortly before the pandemic struck for his breaches of the accounts rules.

Matthew Charles Hudson, founder of Hull firm Ancora Law, has received a rebuke from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for failing to produce client account reconciliations for two and a half years and filing qualified accountants’ reports for 2020 and 2021 late.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published earlier this month, it was only when the firm’s reporting accountants submitted a qualified report in December 2022 that the SRA became aware of the breaches.

The regulator established that no client account reconciliations had been produced between July 2020 and January 2023.

However, it said Mr Hudson has since taken steps to maintain accurate accounting records and carry out proper reconciliations.

In mitigation, the solicitor explained that Ancora Law began trading in December 2019, shortly before the pandemic struck. The SRA said: “It was the first occasion Mr Hudson had held the position of director within a law firm and he found this extremely challenging.”

Further, there was no monetary loss or harm to client funds. He made good a £1,186 cash shortage on client account identified during the SRA inspection and all client account reconciliations have been brought up-to-date.

The SRA said a rebuke was appropriate in cases where the conduct was reckless, there was a low risk of repetition and “some public sanction is required to uphold public confidence in the delivery of legal services”.

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