Solicitors Regulation Authority - Disciplinary Decision
13 August 2015 Steven Eldred of Thomas Eggar LLP
Steven Eldred was a solicitor of some 16 years standing and a partner at Thomas Eggar LLP in Southampton. The firm had received payment of ATE policy premiums from clients or defendants, but had not passed that payment on to the relevant ATE insurer. Did this failure to make payment constitute a breach of the SRA Code of Conduct? (In addition he had also made payments to witnesses, which were dependant on their evidence or the outcome of the case).
He was in breach. The above acts breached SRA Principle 1, rules 14.3 and 29.2 of the SRA Accounts Rules and failed to achieve Outcome 5.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. Steven Eldred was given a written rebuke and ordered to pay costs. He is no longer in legal practice.
This is a salutary warning that money collected from or on behalf of clients must be paid out promptly to its intended recipient.
Accounts Rule 14.3 states: “Client money must be returned to the client (or other person on whose behalf the money is held) promptly, as soon as there is no longer any proper reason to retain those funds. Payments received after you have already accounted to the client, for example by way of a refund, must be paid to the client promptly.”
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