A retired solicitor who was not clear about his status with a client, and provided reserved legal activities in the mistaken belief that he could do so, has accepted a rebuke and fine from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Silvan Sylvester Senior, who is 63, was last granted a practising certificate in 2005, subject to conditions including a requirement that the SRA approve his employment.
A recently published regulatory settlement agreement recorded that last year the SRA received a report from the Legal Ombudsman about Mr Senior having represented a client whilst not holding a practising certificate, and then later in 2014 also received complaints from two other clients, one of whom alleged that Mr Senior had failed to properly clarify his status as a non-practising solicitor.
The SRA concluded that Mr Senior had indeed failed to do this, and had also undertaken reserved instrument activities and litigation in breach of the Legal Services Act 2007.
Specifically, he lodged an application to register a notice of home rights/caution against a property, with his address as the one for service in relation to notifications; handled a divorce, including filing documents at court; and prepared and lodged at court an acknowledgment of service and supplemental information form on a client’s behalf, identifying himself on the form as the solicitor.
As part of the agreement, Mr Senior accepted the allegations and said in mitigation that in letters to others he had said he was retired or no longer practising; he believed that he had done the same with the client and did not intend to mislead her. He has now amended his letterhead “to show clearly that he is a non-practising solicitor”.
Further, it said: “Mr Senior had mistakenly assumed that he could undertake work for his clients, that was reserved for practising solicitors, in the manner that he did. Mr Senior also believes that the covering letter, submitted with the court forms on which he was entered as Mrs B’s solicitor, would have noted his status as being retired in the footer of the letter.”
Under the agreement, Mr Senior was rebuked and fined £500, and agreed to pay a further £600 to the SRA in costs.
In another regulatory settlement agreement published recently, a solicitor who received a suspended two-year prison sentence for issuing fraudulent personal injury claims has agreed to remove himself from the profession.
Timothy Latter, 39, practised at Leech & Co in Manchester and was convicted of 11 counts of fraud. His actions came to light when an insurance company investigated a letter of claim he sent on behalf of a car passenger and found that the car contained no passengers and that the claimant was in fact related to Mr Latter but was unaware of the claim.
He subsequently admitted to other similar frauds, and to altering medical reports in some and signing these in the names of a doctor or consultant. Mr Latter said his motive was purely financial, with at least £36,000 involved.
Part of the mitigation provided to the SRA was that he did suffer and still is suffering from alcohol dependency syndrome and depression “as a result of a challenging home life, pressurised work environment and financial difficulties. Mr Latter has and is receiving treatment for the conditions”.
Mr Latter accepted that he was he no longer fit to practise as a solicitor and that he would in any case be struck off if referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
“In light of the admissions made and in view of Mr Latter’s health issues, the SRA agrees to Mr Latter removing himself voluntarily from the roll as this will mean that the risks to the public of his continuing to practise and risks of exacerbation of his health issues by having a tribunal hearing will be removed,” the agreement said.