The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has used its power to fine solicitors for the first time, Legal Futures can reveal.
Ifzal Ahmed Khan, a sole practitioner at Halifax firm Abrahams, was given a written rebuke and fined £1,000 for failing to comply with an undertaking in breach of rule 10.05 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct.
It was published by the SRA on Friday, more than two months after the sanction was issued.
The SRA has had the power to issue written rebukes and fines of up to £2,000 since 1 June 2010. It allows the SRA to take action against solicitors for lower-level misconduct which until then it had to refer to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to ensure a financial penalty and/or a sanction in the public domain.
Though in theory it should reduce the tribunal’s workload – which has been steadily rising – this could be cancelled out by solicitors appealing SRA decisions to the tribunal.
Under the SRA’s rules, a rebuke and fine must be a proportionate penalty, and the SRA must be satisfied that the act or omission was not trivial or justifiably inadvertent and falls within a broadly worded list of conditions of which only one need be satisfied.
These conditions include, for example, that the act or omission was deliberate or reckless or that it continued for an unreasonable period taking into account its seriousness.