The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has imposed another hefty fine on a solicitor convicted of drink driving.
Richard Lunn, a director of Grimsby firm Haywood Lunn & Allen, was fined £13,836, a figure that had been reduced by 20% due to his mitigation.
The relatively new approach of pegging fines to salary is leading to a significant increase in the levels previously seen for offences of this nature.
We reported last week on a £10,000 fine – reduced from £16,000 due to co-operation – to another solicitor convicted of drink driving. Hitherto, fines for drink driving have generally been around the £2,000 mark.
By contrast, yesterday we wrote about a sole practitioner fined £9,000 for making £22,000 of improper transfers from client to office account over nearly two years and not submitting an accountant’s report for five years.
An SRA notice said Mr Lunn pleaded guilty to drink driving in November 2022. He was disqualified from driving for 19 months, to be reduced by 19 weeks if he satisfactorily completed a driving rehabilitation course.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of £437, costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £44.
Mr Lunn admitted that he had damaged public trust and confidence in the profession.
The SRA took into account mitigation that, “at the time of the incident, Mr Lunn was dealing with a number of personal issues, the subsequent pressures from which caused him to act in the manner described”.
Further, he reported the conviction to the SRA and his employer promptly; it was “an isolated incident” and “out of character”.
The SRA said a fine was “appropriate to maintain professional standards and uphold public confidence”.
Under its fining rules, the regulator scored the nature and impact of the misconduct at three (more serious) and four (medium impact) – the highest combined score can be nine – indicating a penalty bracket of £11,530 to £35,311, taking into account the solicitor’s income.
It decided that a basic penalty of £17,295, towards the middle of the band, would act as a “credible deterrent”, which was reduced by 20% to reflect “the genuine remorse that Mr Lunn has shown, his early guilty plea at court and his full cooperation with the SRA investigation”.
He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,350.