Buttermarket, Stowmarket, Suffolk
, IP14 1ED
Decision - Agreement
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 11 March 2020
Published date: 13 March 2020
Firm or organisation at date of publication
Name: Gudgeons Prentice
Address(es): Buttermarket, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 1ED
Firm ID: 50329
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
1. Agreed outcome
1.1 Gudgeons Prentice (the Firm), a recognised body, agrees to the following outcome to the investigation of its conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):
- it is rebuked
- to the publication of this agreement
- it will pay the costs of the investigation of £300.
2. Summary of Facts
2.1 In 2018 the Firm acted for a property developer on the sale of a new build residential property.
2.2 On 7 March 2018 the Firm gave an undertaking to the buyers’ solicitor to provide a Building Regulation Certificate and a structural defects insurance policy (the Policy) on or before completion.
2.3 Completion took place on 23 April 2018.
2.4 The Firm provided the buyers’ solicitor with the Building Regulation Certificate on 10 January 2019. It did not provide the Policy. Instead it provided a certificate of completion from an architect. The architect certificate gave less protection than the Policy would have.
3.1 The Firm admits, and the SRA accepts, that by failing to provide the buyers’ solicitor the Building Regulation Certificate until 10 January 2019 and failing to provide the Policy at all:
- it failed to perform all undertakings given by it within an agreed timescale or within a reasonable amount of time and in doing so, did not achieve Outcome 11.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, and
- it failed to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services and therefore, breached Principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
4. Why a written rebuke is an appropriate outcome
4.1 The SRA’s Enforcement Strategy sets out its approach to the use of its enforcement powers where there has been a failure to meet its standards or requirements.
4.2 When considering the appropriate sanctions in this matter, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by the Firm and the following mitigation which it has put forward:
- the Firm has shown insight of the situation and understands the important role undertakings play in the delivery of legal services
- this is an isolated incident
- the Firm has cooperated fully with the SRA’s investigation.
4.3 The SRA considers that a written rebuke is the appropriate outcome because:
- by failing to comply with the undertaking the Firm was reckless as to the risk of harm to the purchasers
- by providing the architect’s certificate the Firm took some remedial action to lessen the harm to the buyers, but some harm persists
- a public sanction is required in order to uphold public confidence in the delivery of legal services.
5.1 The SRA considers it appropriate that this agreement is published in the interests of transparency in the regulatory and disciplinary process. The Firm agrees to the publication of this agreement.
6. Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement
6.1 The Firm agrees that it will not deny the admissions made in this agreement or act in any way which is inconsistent with it.
6.2 If the Firm denies the admissions or acts in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement, the conduct which is subject to this agreement may be considered further by the SRA. That may result in a disciplinary outcome or a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations.
6.3 Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement may also constitute a separate breach of principles 2 and 5 of the Principles and paragraph 3.2 of the Code of Conduct for Firms.
7.1 The Firm agrees to pay the costs of the SRA's investigation in the sum of £300. Such costs are due within 28 days of a statement of costs due being issued by the SRA.