The Duty to Report Serious Misconduct

Solicitors and firms are required to “report to the SRA promptly, serious misconduct by any person or firm authorised by the SRA, or any employee, manager or owner of any such firm (taking into account, where necessary, your duty of confidentiality to your client)”

What constitutes serious misconduct can be difficult, and it is not defined. It is a matter of judgment, and it needs to be got right because a failure to do so can bring sanctions.

The Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 contained a definition which was in many ways very helpful and it remains a good guide today. It defined serious misconduct as conduct relating to a criminal offence, fraud and dishonesty. No surprises really.

But what if the conduct being looked at is not dishonest, or criminal or fraudulent?

The position is now affected by the existence of so many conduct warnings from the SRA. These can elevate and make serious what may otherwise have not been. To take an example, it might not be thought that breach of Rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (misuse of a client account) was caught by the definition of serious misconduct, but after the SRA issued its warning that it was viewed seriously there is no real room for doubt. The same will apply to all SRA Warnings.

COLPs and COFAs can have a difficult task evaluating a position and determining whether a report is required and it is something that causes real anxiety.

This is an area I can offer help with, both in advising whether a report is required and if so, how it should be done.

Comments

No comments so far - why not be the first?

@
http://
(HTML markup not supported)
A much simpler set of Accounts Rules will come into force in November 2019, and will for the first time give firms, managers and sole practitioners considerable flexibility on how they go about complying and dealing with client money.
The Leigh Day appeal reaffirmed some basic principles for appeals of SRA judgements
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal regularly deals with applications brought by the SRA following the conclusion of criminal proceedings against solicitors. The conviction sometimes forms the entire basis of the proceedings, but otherwise
In late 2013 Aidan Loy committed three drink driving offences for which he was sentenced in December 2013 and February 2014. The second two offences were dealt with together, and as they were all committed in a very short period of time with
The recently published judgment in Forz Khan v Bar Standards Board provides insight into the professional consequences of careless talk and use of LinkedIn. It comes hot on the heels of an SDT judgment in Deborah Daniels who was prosecuted by
LawCare released striking statistics at the beginning of 2018 which show the number of lawyers calling for help is increasing. Lawyers' mental and emotional health has been slowly creeping up the agenda and even the SRA is recognising
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is now consulting on whether to reduce the standard of proof in disciplinary cases from a criminal to a civil one.
Solicitors have been warned to watch their language and it is highly likely that other regulators will adopt a similar approach.
The SRA and other regulators frequently bring disciplinary proceedings based on "a lack of integrity." But what is integrity?
In September 2017 Majid Mahmood was fined £25,000 and was the subject of a deferred period of suspension as a result of wholly inappropriate posts on his Facebook Page
On the 21 September 2017 the SRA published a warning notice to solicitors, firms and anyone else it regulates who provide tax planning services
There is a procedure in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal which allows the parties to apply for disciplinary proceedings to be concluded by a Statement of Agreed Facts and Outcome.
Michael Cremin was a man who presented himself to the outside world as a Lawyer and Advocate. He had a professional profile on the web site of Cotswold Barristers Chambers, along with his photograph. Cremin was neither.
This has long been a guiding principle. Solicitors are guardians and trustees of client money and are expected to exercise proper stewardship over it. Everything that we do with client money has to in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has confirmed that it will consult on where to set the standard of proof when determining allegations of misconduct against solicitors. The Bar Standards Board is also looking at a new civil standard of
In proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal it has for very many years been a requirement that a solicitor should clearly know the case that he or she has to meet. In other words, there is an obligation on the SRA to properly
The need to deal carefully, thoroughly and openly with the SRA during investigations cannot be overstated. There is an explicit professional obligation to cooperate with the Authority and to provide it with whatever information it might need
Web site powered by CommsBox™