A conveyancing solicitor has been rebuked and fined £2,000 after he dealt entirely with the daughter of the owner of a property in whose sale he acted, only for it later to emerge the seller had a lasting power of attorney (LPA) in place that named his son as his attorney.
Simon Keith Proddow, a director of Berkshire firm Proddow Mackay (Conveyancing) Limited, received the maximum sanction the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) can issue without sending a case to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
According to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the SRA, Mr Proddow accepted instructions via the seller’s, daughter, Ms D – a client for whom he had acted for a decade – in the sale of one property and the purchase of another.
At no time, however, did Mr Proddow meet with the seller, Mr M, or speak to him on the telephone. Ms D said her father was elderly and unable to attend the firm’s offices.
The solicitor admitted he failed to send any client care information to Mr M, confirm with him that he wanted to sell his property and purchase another, or that Mr Proddow should take instructions from Ms D on his behalf.
An LPA was registered for Mr M in 2009 appointing his son, Mr DM, as his attorney.
Upon the sale of the first property in 2012, Mr Proddow’s firm paid the proceeds, more than £96,000, into Ms D’s personal bank account, on her instructions and with her assurance that Mr M had agreed to it.
A second property was purchased using the funds obtained from the sale and registered in the names of Mr M, Ms D, and his other daughter, Ms S. Ms D assured Mr Proddow that her father had agreed to it.
In 2015 the solicitor was instructed by Ms D in the sale of the second property. But the sale did not proceed because Mr Proddow finally became aware of the LPA.
He immediately stopped acting in relation to the matter upon discovery of the LPA and informed the firm’s insurer.
The SRA said the agreement was appropriate because the conduct was both “reckless and caused loss to Mr M”, and “was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent”.
It was also proportionate taking into account Mr Proddow’s admissions and his submission in mitigation that he had acted for Ms D in relation to conveyancing for 10 years, and because he believed the daughters were acting in Mr M’s best interests.
Mr Proddow agreed to pay the SRA £600 in costs.
Meanwhile, the SRA has banned firms from employing legal executive Melanie Bushnell without its permission.
Ms Bushnell was employed by alternative business structure DAS Law in Bristol when she was found to have pursued a claim for her partner using the firm’s name without its consent. She was dismissed for gross misconduct on 22 July 2015. She is currently not working in a legal practice.
As well as being made subject to a section 43 order, she was given a written rebuke and ordered to pay costs of £600.