Solicitor sanctioned by SRA for misleading client
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (‘SRA’) have reached a Regulatory Settlement Agreement with a solicitor who erroneously lead a client to believe that court proceedings had been issued in their matter.
John Mitton, a former director of PG Legal Limited, was instructed by an unnamed client in relation to an employment dispute with a recruitment agency in December 2014. The SRA found that between February 2015 and March 2016 Mr Mitton had given the impression, over a series of emails to the client, that he had issued an application to the court. In reality no such application had been drafted by the solicitor and the case had not progressed.
In a statement released by the SRA, it is detailed that Mr Mitton accepted his emails were misleading and that he had therefore breached Principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, namely the requirement to act with integrity and behave in way that maintains the public trust in legal services.
It was put forward in mitigation that Mr Mitton was experiencing personal issues which meant that he had been unable to dedicate sufficient time to the firm. It was also noted that he had a clear regulatory history and that he accepted his conduct was inappropriate in a prompt manner.
The SRA have imposed an order under s.43 Solicitors Act 1974 that Mr Mitton cannot be employed by a regulated entity without express permission from the SRA. Mr Mitton has also been fined £1,000 and agreed to pay investigation costs of £600. Whilst the SRA have come to a settlement agreement, they have rebuked Mr Mitton for his conduct. Mr Mitton faces further disciplinary sanctions or a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations if he breaches the order.
This matter presents a stark warning for solicitors, to be clear in correspondence and to ensure that they continue to act with integrity even where there are outside mitigating factors at play.
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