Solicitors rebuked for settlement agreement clauses

Agreements: Solicitors sanctioned

Two solicitors who negotiated settlement agreements that sought to prevent others from making complaints to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have been rebuked.

The sanctions, published by the SRA last week, come amid continuing criticism of clauses inserted into settlement agreements by lawyers.

Nicholas James Moran was a partner at Black Graf in central London and now practises at the Insolvency Service.

According to the SRA, Mr Moran negotiated on behalf of a client a settlement agreement with person A, that required person A to withdraw a complaint he had made to the SRA against the client and his business, and to make no further complaint against the client and his business to the SRA or any other body or person.

The regulator said his conduct breached SRA principles 1 (You must uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice), 6 (You must behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services), and 7 (You must comply with your legal and regulatory obligations and deal with your regulators and ombudsmen in an open, timely and co-operative manner).

He also failed to achieve outcome 10.7 of the SRA Code of Conduct (You do not attempt to prevent anyone from providing information to the SRA).

Meanwhile, Ian Robert Penman, a partner at New Media Law in central London, was found to have breached principles 1 and 6 “by attempting to influence a complainant to withdraw his complaint to the SRA about him and prevent the complainant from making any further complaints to the SRA or any other organisation”.

In another regulatory announcement, the SRA has issued Jennifer Mordi – formerly a litigation paralegal at Ageas Law – with a section 43 order, meaning she cannot work for another law firm without the regulator’s permission.

Ageas Law is a joint venture alternative business structure between the insurer and NewLaw Solicitors.

The SRA said Ms Mordi changed client details in order to use the firm’s monies to pay an unknown and unauthorised source, and later used false documentation to facilitate payment of monies belonging to the firm to an unknown and unauthorised source.

The SRA said she acted dishonestly in both instances, which took place in autumn 2017.

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