Solicitor struck off after 40-year career – for the sake of £100

SDT: Solicitor could not explain his thoughts at the time of the misconduct

An experienced conveyancer has been struck off for falsifying the completion date of a transaction in a report to tax authorities in order to avoid a late registration penalty of £100.

John Martyn Lewis, who qualified in 1978, held his hands up to the misconduct, claiming the dishonesty was an “isolated aberration” in an otherwise distinguished career.

Mr Lewis, a solicitor at three-office North Wales and Cheshire firm Allington Hughes, amended a filing made to the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) to make the completion date of the transaction less than 30 days earlier.

This avoided making his client – and therefore his firm – liable for a late registration penalty. Returns made more than one day but less than six months late carry a penalty of £100.

The TR1 should have been submitted by 13 January 2019. On 15 January, the solicitor’s secretary had accurately sent in the correct date of completion, namely 14 December 2018.

However, on the same day Mr Lewis contacted the WRA to amend the submission to 18 December, and then instructed his secretary to confirm it.

When confronted by his firm’s compliance officer, Mr Lewis admitted he had “deliberately misled” the authority in an attempt to avoid a penalty charge.

Agreeing an outcome with the Solicitors Regulation Authority – meaning there was no hearing in person – Mr Lewis said he could not explain his thoughts at the time, and accepted there were no extraordinary circumstances.

Approving the strike-off, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said the sanction was “appropriate and proportionate”.

It said the solicitor had “knowingly and consciously amended the date so as to avoid any penalty” in breach of his professional duties. “Public confidence in the reputation of the profession demanded no lesser punishment”.

Mr Lewis was also ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

    Readers Comments

  • Jill Evans says:

    This is an outrage – Mr Lewis is one of the nicest people on earth, he is everything a solicitor should be , I would put ALL my trust in him, he always has the clients and profession at heart . Stuck off for the sake of £100 , it’s disgusting, there is no justice in the justice service . A great loss from the professional, such a waste.

  • Peter says:

    The Compliance officer needs a reality check.

  • Mark Graham says:

    Very interesting.

  • John says:

    Sorry to hear Mr Lewis has lost his post due to such a small mistake after a faultless 40 year career. We have always found him very helpful and professional

  • john brimelow says:

    This result is absurd and out of all proportion to an upstanding diligent busy upright career of many many years ..His reputation in the area is a very high one and for a relatively minor misdemeanour involving a trivial sum the result out of all proportion to the offence.

  • Dan Bindman says:

    Judging by the comments this solicitor was well regarded. Unfortunately he was struck off because he deliberately misled the tax authorities to avoid a penalty. Unless there are exceptional reasons, like mental breakdown or similar (in this case the solicitor admitted there were none), the tribunal has no option under its rules but to approve striking off in such circumstances. Such is the tightrope that all solicitors walk. Any slippage is courting professional disaster.

  • Chris Wood says:

    The best solicitor in Wrexham by a mile, gets the job done, he will be greatly missed by all his clients, who have always received excellent service over his forty years in the profession. An absolute disgrace.

  • Alan Bell says:

    Martin Lewis is a Super Star. Brilliant at his job and diligent in his work.


    I have dealt with Martin for over 25 years. What a magnificent servant to the trade he was, and still should be!! I can not praise him high enough, a true gentleman, what a disgrace this is!!

  • I T & S C Davies says:

    My Husband and I are greatly saddened by this, we were given excellent service and his upmost commitment to any job undertaken by him, we always found him to be professional very helpful, a well respected gentleman, he will be greatly missed by us and all his clients.

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Katie McKenna

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Like the weather, our feelings and perspectives change and undulate throughout the day. When you look outside, you get a snapshot of the world in that moment.

Anything else to say about SDLT?

SDLT is not stamp duty. This is something I have to say to firms too often. Whilst it has some of the same words in its name, it is not the former tax on property deeds that existed pre-December 2003.

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