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Solicitor struck off the roll for “effectively stealing” from counsel and experts

A sole practioner and solicitor since 1998 has been struck off the roll by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ('SDT') having retained funds owed to experts and counsel, over a number of years.

The Solicitors Regulatory Authority ('SRA') investigated Martyn Brown after questions were raised following the filing of a Qualified Accountant's Reports.  An inspection was carried out by a forensic investigation officer in April 2018, who found that £49,000 of unpaid professional disbursements and £20,000 of unpaid after-the-event premiums did not appear on the firm’s books.  Whilst Mr Brown acknowledged the shortfall in a letter to the SRA in 2018, the SDT ruling held that he had had insufficient funds to rectify the shortfall.

The SDT concluded that Mr Brown had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 in that he failed to act with integrity and that he failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services.

The SDT held that Mr Brown had acted dishonestly and that his conduct had been deliberate, calculated and repeated over a period of four years.  It stated that he ‘made a conscious decision not to pay the third parties to whom the monies were owed for as long as he could, before he was chased for payment’.  It further noted that ‘the motivation for the respondent’s conduct was to keep his firm afloat and improve his cash flow, without any regard for others...The respondent had effectively been stealing from the professionals to whom that money was due in order to finance his firm.’

Mr Brown was struck off the roll and ordered to pay costs of £9,068.

The SDT's judgment can be found here.

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