A solicitor who used a client account to pay suppliers at a client’s request has been rebuked by a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

A report of the proceedings, published in the media last month, reveals how a solicitor was persuaded by a client to pay his company’s bills from the firm’s client account.

According to the report, the lawyer was acting as the client’s in-house counsel when the client’s bank account was frozen by a court as a result of an unrelated financial dispute.

A winding-up petition was brought against the client, a financial technology start-up, earlier this year, resulting in the firm’s financial activities being frozen so that the creditor could reclaim what they were owed.

Speaking before the SDT in October, the solicitor argued that the client owed more than £80,000 to suppliers and would have risked going out of business had the monies not been paid from the client account.

However, the panel found that the lawyer had acted in breach of client account rules and was rebuked and fined for his actions.

The SDT said the solicitor had allowed his firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility, “where there was not an underlying legal transaction or other legal service justifying it”.

The solicitor, who also acted as his niche law firm’s Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA), admitted to failing to ensure compliance with Solicitors Accounts Rules (SAR).

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Ian Brownlie
Ian Brownlie is our manager specialising in the audit and application of the SAR regulations, set out within the regulations governing solicitors practices. If you have any queries please contact Ian Brownlie at ianbrownlie@smailesgoldie.co.uk.

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