A solicitor who conducted a conveyancing transaction through a business that was not authorised by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has accepted a rebuke and £2,000 fine for his misconduct.
The terms of the regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday represent the most the SRA can sanction a solicitor without a referral to a disciplinary tribunal.
Babatunde Oladele Ojo was the sole director of Green Management Solutions Limited (GMSL), a business that has never been authorised or regulated by the SRA.
In 2015, he acted through GMSL for a friend in the sale of their property, and asked the purchaser’s solicitors to send the completion monies to what he described as “GMSL’s client account”.
In fact, it was Mr Ojo’s personal bank account, through which he transacted GSML business.
The agreement recorded that the purchaser’s solicitors asked Mr Ojo whether GMSL was regulated by the SRA and authorised to carry out conveyancing. Mr Ojo responded that GMSL was registered as providing legal services and gave its Companies House registration details. He confirmed his status as a solicitor authorised by the SRA.
The purchaser’s solicitors paid the completion monies into Mr Ojo’s personal bank account. The sale completed in October 2015 and Mr Ojo sent the money to the seller.
Mr Ojo admitted that by describing his own bank account as GSML’s client account and by providing information to the purchaser’s solicitors which could have misled them, he breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles – acting with integrity and behaving in a way that “maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services”.
He also admitted to breaching of the SRA Accounts Rules.
In mitigation, Mr Ojo said he acted in good faith to assist a friend in a conveyancing transaction and pointed out that no loss was caused.
The SRA said the agreed outcome was appropriate because the conduct had the potential to cause loss to any other person, and to mislead other people, while it was “a proportionate outcome in the public interest”.