Decision - Agreement
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 17 March 2020
Published date: 9 November 2020
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving rise to outcome
Name: Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP
Address(es): 1 Whitehall Riverside, Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 4BN
Firm ID: 460169
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
REGULATORY SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
- Nigel Timothy Williams, ("the Respondent") of 58 Cambridge Road, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough TS5 5HG agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into his professional conduct under reference TRI/1280045-2019.
- The Respondent was admitted as a solicitor on 15 October 1991. At the material times, he was in practice as a solicitor and partner in Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP ("the Firm").
- The Respondent acted for a corporate client ("Client A") in relation to the establishment and ongoing management of a commercial arrangement under which on Client A's instructions the Firm was appointed to set up bank accounts, in the Firm's name and to which representatives of the Firm were signatories, on behalf of three individual clients of Client A, into which accounts those clients deposited funds. The clients of Client A were not clients of the Firm. On the instruction of Client A and the clients of Client A the Respondent caused or allowed the Firm to make payments from time to time to Client A from the funds held in the escrow accounts.
- Following a self-report by the Firm, the SRA's investigation identified that the Respondent allowed or caused payments to be made from the accounts in the total sums of £168,000 and €688,000 other than in circumstances in which such payments were due to the recipient (Client A) pursuant to instructions relating to an underlying transaction in which the Firm was acting or to a service forming part of the Respondent's normal regulated activities.
- Accordingly, in respect of such payments, the Respondent was providing a banking facility to Client A.
- The Respondent makes, and the SRA accepts, the following admission:
Between March 2013 and July 2017, he caused or allowed payments from monies held by the Firm as client monies other than in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction where the Firm was acting or to a service forming part of the Firm's normal regulated activities, and in doing so provided banking facilities in breach of Rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and Principle 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.
Responsibility for professional conduct
- The Respondent has accepted the breaches referred to above.
- The Respondent has agreed to the following sanctions:
- a fine of £2,000.
- The Respondent is fined £2,000 in respect of the breaches identified above.
- The Respondent agrees that this outcome will be published by the SRA and that it may also be disclosed to any person upon request or otherwise.
- The Respondent agrees to pay a contribution to the costs of the investigation, including the SRA's legal costs, in the sum of £3,840 inclusive of VAT and disbursements within 28 days of receipt from the SRA of a statement of costs due.
- The Respondent agrees he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement by, for example, denying the misconduct admitted above.
- The Respondent understands and accepts that if any terms of this agreement are not complied with within the time limits agreed, or if the Respondent acts in any way inconsistent with this agreement, then his conduct will be referred to the SDT on the original facts and allegations and also on the basis that he has failed to comply with this Regulatory Settlement Agreement and that this will constitute a breach of Principles 2 and 5 and paragraph 7.3 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs 2019.
- By entering into this Agreement, the SRA confirms that the decision to refer the Respondent's conduct to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal dated 9 November 2019 is overturned.
- The date of this agreement is 17 March 2020.