A solicitor has been struck off for selling his firm’s letterhead to a company for use in compensation claims for £10 a letter where the claim was successful.
Edward Anthony Bromet was also found to have made improper payments of £28,000 from client to office account, which he claimed was caused by using a mobile banking app “from a remote countryside location in poor weather conditions”.
Approving an agreed outcome between Mr Bromet and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the SDT heard that the 51-year-old solicitor, admitted in 1996, was director and sole shareholder in Bromets Solicitors. The SRA closed the firm, based in Yorkshire, in July 2019.
He admitted that he had “inappropriately allowed the firm’s letterhead and template letters to be used by another organisation” from April 2016 to April 2018.
Bromets Solicitors allowed Company A to use a template ‘letter of engagement’ and ‘letter of claim’ on the law firm’s letterhead in “certain compensation claims with the firm being paid £10 for each letter if compensation was awarded”.
The correspondence “was in an agreed and fixed form and was not reviewed by the firm before it was sent out”.
In mitigation not agreed with the SRA, Mr Bromet said all of the letters were received by “large, commercial and sophisticated users of legal services”, but he accepted that the arrangement had the potential to diminish trust in him and the profession.
The solicitor also admitted making four improper transfers from client to office account totalling £19,000 between August and September 2018. The money was used to pay staff, unsecured creditors and Mr Bronnet himself.
Mr Bromet “explained these payments on the basis that they were loans made to the firm by a trust”, in which he was co-trustee with a Mr HM, “in lawful exercise” of his powers of investment.
The SRA said that, if this was the case, they were made in circumstances where the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust conflicted with his own as the only shareholder in the company to which they were being lent.
In an email to Mr HM sent in November 2018, Mr Bromet referred to “your trust cash” being held in another bank account when he knew it had been paid away.
Some months later, the solicitor told Mr HM that the money was “transferred but no trust funds were spent for ‘my benefit’ – they were invested or loaned for trust purposes with a high rate of interest to assist your income”.
He admitted that these explanations were misleading and thus dishonest
Mr Bromet admitted making three other improper transfers in 2018 totalling £28,000, which again went to staff and the solicitor himself.
In more non-agreed mitigation, he said the transfers were made “as a result of a mistake”, when he was “away from the office and had cause to use a mobile banking application on his telephone to arrange payments from a remote countryside location in poor weather conditions and with a limited and intermittent mobile signal causing reception and download issues”.
The SRA said the money was “promptly replaced in full” in early October 2018.
The regulator accepted that Mr Bromet’s actions were “never intended to be dishonest or to lack integrity”, but he agreed that the effect of the admissions were that he should no longer practise as a solicitor – he said he wished to retire as a solicitor anyway.
While apologising for his misconduct, he emphasised that it was never alleged that any client lost out financially.
He was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £28,000. Mr Bromet gave the SRA an undertaking that he would not apply for readmission to the roll.