The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has used its enhanced fining power for the first time, imposing a £15,000 fine on a solicitor who failed clients subject to deputyship orders.
In the summer, the longstanding cap of £2,000 that the SRA could levy on traditional law firms and those working in them without having to refer them to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was increased to £25,000.
By contrast, the limit for alternative business structures is £250m, and £50m for those working in them. The SRA wants to bring traditional firms in line with these figures eventually.
According to a notice published by the regulator yesterday, Gordon Kemp is a manager at Bridgend firm Anthony & Jarvie.
“From November 2014 to September 2019, when acting for three clients who were the subject of Court of Protection deputyship orders, he failed to attend to or properly manage their financial affairs or protect their money or assets,” it said.
In doing so, he breached three SRA principles: acting in each client’s best interests (principle 4), providing a proper standard of service (principle 5) and protecting client money and assets (principle 10).
Mr Kemp was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £1,725.
There was no more detail on the circumstances. Earlier this year, the SRA issued a consultation on its publication policy, including the level of detail it should publish.
The regulator said the earlier consultation on its fining powers “heard views from some parts of the profession that they would like more information about the regulatory decisions we make and, indeed, for all decisions to be published in full”.
It explained: “This included a call for the publication of the full details of the facts of the case, any arguments raised by both us and respondents, and reporting of mitigating circumstances that would aid transparency and precedent setting.
“However, it may also be argued that too much detail of a technical nature may make the information less accessible for some, particularly members of the public, so could hamper transparency.”
The outcome of the consultation has not yet been published.
The government is set to remove the cap from the SRA’s fining power in relation to economic crime through the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which passed a crucial stage in the House of Commons earlier this week.