Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 5
Published date: 12
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving
rise to outcome
Name: Clarkes LLP
30 Market Street, Oakengates, Telford , Shropshire, TF2 6ED
Firm ID: 559338
This outcome was reached
1.1 Lee Colin Hull, a former employee of Clarkes LLP of Telford agrees to the following outcome to the investigation of his conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):
- (a) an order under section 43 order is made, that with effect from the date of this agreement:
- (i) no solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with his practice as a solicitor;
- (ii) no employee of a solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the solicitor’s practice;
- (iii) no recognised body shall employ or remunerate him;
- (iv) no manager or employee of a recognised body shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the business of that body;
- (v) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body shall permit him to be a manager of the body; and
- (vi) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body shall permit him to have an interest in the body;
- except in accordance with a Society permission;
- (b) he is rebuked.
- (c) he is fined £2000.
- (d) to the publication of this agreement.
- (e) he will pay the costs of the investigation of £600.
Summary of Facts
2.1 Mr Hull was employed at Clarkes Legal as a Legal Advisor. When he applied for his job at the firm submitted a CV gave the impression that:
- (a) he held a degree from the University of Leeds, whereas he holds a degree from Leeds Metropolitan University;
- (b) he attended Yale University whereas he actually submitted a research paper for the law review, which was not published; and
- (c) he had been called to the Bar whereas he merely completed the Bar Vocational course. As a consequence, he is not entitled to use the term "Barrister".
2.2 None of these statements were true.
2.3 In February 2016 Mr Hull accepted a Police Caution for the offence of fraud by false representation as a result of his false CV.
2.4 Whilst employed at Clarkes Legal Mr Hull was responsible for the progress of a number of cases. In mid-2015 he missed a court date on one of those matters.
2.5 Mr Hull attempted to cover his error by producing and back-dating three letters. The letters were addressed to Mr Hull's client and dated 22 April 2015, 22 May 2015 and 3 June 2015. The letters made it appear that Mr Hull had asked for fees from his client in order to proceed with the matter.
2.6 None of the letters were created on the date on which they appeared. They were all created on 8 July 2015. None of the letters were sent to Mr Hull's client.
2.7 Mr Hull made reference to the three letters in a witness statement to the court, in an attempt to explain the missed court date.
3.1 Mr Hull makes the following admissions which the SRA accepts:
- (a) that by using a false CV in order to obtain employment he:
- (i) failed to act with integrity in breach of Principle 2 of SRA Principles 2011 (the "Principles") and;
- (ii) failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services in breach of Principle 6 of the Principles
- (b) that by creating and back-dating three letters and by using those letters in an attempt to support a witness statement submitted to the court, he:
- (i) misled the court and therefore breached Principle 1 of the Principles and failed to achieve Outcome 5.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011;
- (ii) failed to act with integrity in breach of Principle 2 of the Principles;
- (iii) failed to act in the best interest of his client in breach of Principle 4 of the Principles;
- (iv) failed to provide a proper standard of service to his client in breach of Principle 5; and
- (v) failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services in breach of Principle 6 of the Principles.
- (c) that in relation to the use of the false CV, the backdating of the three letters and the use of those letters in an attempt to mislead the court, he was dishonest.
Why the agreed outcome is appropriate
4.1 The SRA considers that the agreed outcome at paragraph 1 is appropriate as the conditions in rule 3.1 of the SRA Disciplinary Rules 2011 are met, in that:
- (a) the conduct was deliberate or reckless;
- (b) the conduct misled his client and the court;
- (c) the agreed outcome is a proportionate outcome in the public interest; and
- (d) the conduct was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent.
4.2 In deciding that the agreed outcome is proportionate, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by Mr Hull and the following mitigation which he has put forward:
- (a) in 2015 Mr Hull's caseload was significant and he was under substantial pressure;
- (b) he has been on medication for depression for several years which affected his judgment and he was also dealing with the death of his grandfather.
4.3 The amount of the fine takes into account all relevant circumstances, including those set out in Appendix 1 to the SRA Disciplinary Procedure Rules 2011.
4.4 The SRA considers it appropriate that this agreement is published in the interests of transparency in the regulatory and disciplinary process.
Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this Agreement
5.1 Mr Hull agrees that he will not act in any way which is inconsistent with this agreement such as, for example, by denying the admissions made in this agreement.
5.2 If Mr Hull acts in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement, the conduct which is subject to this agreement may be subject to further consideration by the SRA. That may result in a disciplinary sanction or a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations. Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement may also constitute a separate breach of Principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.
6.1 Mr Hull agrees to pay the costs of the SRA's investigation in the sum of £600. Such costs are due within 28 days of a statement of costs due being issued by the SRA.
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