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Sole Practitioner Fined £5,000 by SRA for Accounts Failings
May 1, 2024

A solicitor has been fined over £5,000 for failing to keep accurately compliant books of accounts over a period spanning over a decade. The sole practitioner has run the firm since 2010, but consistent issues were identified in the qualified accountants’ reports submitted between 2012 all the way through to 2022.

The published agreed decision by the Solicitors Regulation Authority stated that between April 1st – 31st March 2022, the solicitor failed to keep sufficiently compliant books of accounts. The SRA also stated that client account reconciliations were not completed within an acceptable amount of time, and bookkeeping transaction posts were severely delayed. The regulator’s decision to fine was also subject to the solicitor’s failure to verify that the accountants’ reports for 2020 and 2021 were submitted on time. 

The SRA said the solicitor ‘was aware of the recurring nature of these breaches over a prolonged period of time. Despite this, [they] undertook no, or insufficient, action to rectify the breaches. The result was that client account reconciliations were not completed on a five-weekly basis and there were delays in posting bookkeeping transactions.’ They also commented on how client account ledgers were not maintained contemporaneously.

The SRA have justified their decision to fine based on the ‘ongoing breaches which remained unrectified and over a significant period of time,’ stating that they ‘had the potential to cause harm to the firm’s clients if liabilities owed could not be met.’

The statement concluded that ‘a fine is appropriate to maintain professional standards and uphold public confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services provided by authorised persons. This is because of the possible impact upon the public’s confidence in firms and in the provision of legal services generally. This is linked to a solicitor’s failure, over a prolonged period of time, to comply with the SRA Accounts Rules.’

The solicitor’s breaches ‘amounted to a deliberate pattern of behaviour over a prolonged period of time. [The solicitor] would have known the importance of submitting accountants reports on time, completing regular bank reconciliations and making sure client ledgers were maintained contemporaneously.’

Ultimately, the SRA fined the solicitor £5,411, alongside an additional payment of £600 to cover investigation costs.

Read the full Law Society Gazette article here: Solicitors Regulation Authority fines sole practitioner £5,000 over accounts failings | Law Gazette

Guidance for Law Firms

This newest in a longline of fines handed out by the Solicitors Regulation Authority is no exception. With the increasingly intensified number of sanctions the SRA are imposing for breaches, we at TSP understand the pressure firms are feeling in their efforts to stay compliant. Since October 2023, the regulator has imposed more than 19 fines on firms for non-compliance, with ten fines exceeding £10,000.  

If you believe your firm may be at risk or wish to ensure your firm is meeting the required standard, we at The Strategic Partner can offer a range of solutions. We work with firms of all sizes and types, from partnerships to ABSs, high-street firms, and multinational firms. Each firm is different, and we understand it is essential to tailor our solution to your firm’s unique needs. Allow us to help you manage the pressures and obligations involved with maintaining and monitoring the application of your firm’s compliance strategy.

Get in Touch

For more information about our Regulation and Compliance Services (including Anti-Money Laundering), you can call us on 0203 911 9710 or please email us at info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk.

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