Tribunal refuses to restore sanctioned solicitor’s “pride”

SDT: Passage of time did not mitigate against incompetence

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has refused to remove restrictions from the practising certificate of a 63-year-old solicitor who said he wanted to recover his “pride and dignity”.

In 2015, Jared Donald Bailey was prevented from being a sole practitioner or partner after he was found to have committed a series of accounts rule breaches that led to a £14,000 cash shortage on client account over three years.

The tribunal then described his failures as “careless accounting and incompetence rather than deliberate; they had not been planned and were not in breach of trust”.

The solicitor told the present tribunal that the misconduct, which he had admitted, occurred “during a difficult period for him both personally and financially”, with an ill wife and the need to care for their young child. As a result, he was adjudged bankrupt in 2014.

He argued that, prior to his appearance before the tribunal, he had “an unblemished record dating back to 1982”.

He was currently an assistant solicitor at a Macclesfield-based personal injury firm, where he held “no financial duties or responsibilities on behalf of the firm”.

No regulatory concerns had been raised against him since 2015, Mr Bailey pointed out, saying that he “wish[ed] to recover [his] pride and dignity” and that his daughter was presently 16 and he hoped to support her financially through university.

Mr Bailey added that, at 63, he had “no ambition to run or manage his own business again”.

He was “content in his current role and intended to remain in post until he considered retirement in four or five years’ time”.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) opposed the application, contending that he still posed a risk to the public and the profession as the evidence Mr Bailey relied upon to demonstrate that he had learned from his mistakes was “insufficient, inadequate and failed to address the proven misconduct”.

The SDT said that while it understood Mr Bailey’s desire for a “clean” practising certificate, its primary consideration was to protect the public and the profession.

“The proven misconduct, whilst not at the higher end of the spectrum of seriousness, were [sic] by no means trivial.”

The SDT said Mr Bailey had undertaken training “as a direct response to criticism levelled at him” by the SRA, but neither course “was of sufficient depth and detail to provide [him] with any demonstrable insight into his previous failings”.

The time that had elapsed since the misconduct “did not, in the tribunal’s view, militate against the incompetence and carelessness with which [he] handled client money”.

It was not satisfied that Mr Bailey had demonstrated “genuine insight” into his failings and “saw no evidence” of the solicitor “having taken it upon himself to address those previous failings”.

His application was refused and he was ordered to pay costs of £1,470.

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