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the decision below.
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 18
Published date: 21
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving
rise to outcome
Name: PI Legal Services LLP
1 Carew Close, Chafford Hundred, Grays ESSEX RM16, England
Firm ID: 446353
This outcome was reached
STEPHEN ANTHONY CASTLE formerly of PI LEGAL SERVICES LLP
REGULATORY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
- 1. Mr Stephen Anthony Castle, former member of PI Legal Services LLP (the Firm) agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into his professional conduct under reference REG/47708-2010. Background
- 2. On 24 June 2008 the Forensic Investigation department of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) carried out an inspection of the Firm and produced a Report dated 13 May 2010 (“the Report”).
- 3. The Report identified that:
- 3.1 The Firm was set up by Ian Corbridge in 2006 to do volume conveyancing work in relation to properties in England & Wales. Mr Corbridge had a 99% shareholding in the Firm and Mr Castle had a 1% shareholding.
- 3.2 The Firm’s client account reconciliations had not been properly written up between the opening of the firm and March 2008, when the Firm appointed a new cashier to review the Firm’s accounts.
- 3.3 The Firm had maintained suspense ledger accounts which were not being used in accordance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998.
- 4. Mr Castle makes, and the SRA accepts, the following admissions:-
- 4.1 That Mr Castle has acted in breach of Rule 32(7) Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 as the firm's client account reconciliations statement did not reflect the true accounts position.
- 4.2 That Mr Castle has acted in breach of Rule 32(16) Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 as a suspense account was used other than for the purposes set out in Rule 32(16).
- 5. Mr Castle has put forward the following mitigation in relation to his conduct.
- 5.1 Mr Castle was a member of the LLP with a 1% shareholding. He had little or no direct involvement with the Firm and was not involved in any of the decision-making at the Firm. It was intended that Mr Castle would provide holiday cover and his name was on the bank mandate. However he was never asked to do anything for the Firm and did not receive any accounts or financial benefit from the Firm.
- 5.2 Mr Castle acknowledges that as a member of the Firm he was under a duty to ensure compliance with the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998 by reason of Rule 6 of those Rules.
Responsibility for professional conduct
- 6. Mr Castle is severely reprimanded for the breaches identified in paragraph 4 above.
- 7. Mr Castle agrees that this outcome will be published by the SRA and that it may also be disclosed to any person upon request or otherwise.
- 8. Mr Castle agrees he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement by, for example, denying the misconduct admitted in paragraph 4 above.
- 9. If Mr Castle acts in any way inconsistently with this agreement, Mr Castle accepts that the matter could be referred back to an Adjudicator for consideration, including referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to the original facts and allegations and on the basis that Mr Castle’s failure to comply constitutes a breach of Rule 1 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.
Carol Westrop (for the Solicitors Regulation Authority)
Stephen Anthony Castle
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