In continued collaboration with Paragon, Weightmans’ Compli team – who provide bespoke risk management and compliance consultancy services – has produced a paper discussing a recent SDT case.

In a recently reported case before the SDT, a solicitor who had incorrectly advised 115 clients about the timing of rent reviews, having used a precedent report on title which had not been amended for these particular circumstances, agreed to accept a finding as part of an Agreed Outcome that he had acted in breach of his professional obligations and duties. In particular, the finding identified failures to provide a proper standard of service to clients and to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public placed in him and in the provision of legal services. Whilst the SDT recognised that the solicitor had been open and honest, fully co-operated with the firm and the SRA during the investigation, did not deliberately intend to compromise the clients, showed insight and accepted accountability, the SDT still considered the misconduct to be ‘very serious,’ and issued a £15,000 fine and an order for costs of £13,350.

The Tribunal found that there were aggravating features in that the mistake was repeated over a protracted period, and the solicitor knew or ought to have known that inattention to detail could result in a material breach of his professional obligations and duties.

The case is a stark reminder that:

  • Precedents, whilst beneficial if used correctly, still require careful review on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they accurately reflect both the current law and the terms agreed between the parties.
  • Systems and controls need to be robust to ensure a clear understanding of when precedents should/should not be used, that any precedents being used are regularly reviewed, access to old precedents restricted, and that an appropriate supervision process is in place.
  • Whilst the SRA is unlikely to investigate/discipline a single act of negligence, it will want to know about patterns of conduct and/or circumstances where multiple clients are impacted by the negligence.

With the increased fining powers that the SRA now has, the cost of getting it wrong has never been greater!

This article has been written by Michelle Garlick of Weightmans LLP’s Manchester Office.  Paragon’s clients have access to the Compli Team at Weightmans.

If you have any questions about Paragon, Weightmans, Compli and their services or the above article please do not hesitate to get in touch.


Ryan Senior


T +44 (0)20 7280 8254

M +44 (0)7827 575 652

Piers Winton


T +44 (0)20 7280 8224

M +44 (0)7787 375378

This article is published without responsibility on the part of the author or publishers for any loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any views expressed in the article. Specific risk management advice requires detailed knowledge and analysis of each firm and practice area facts relating to the risk. The information included in this article cannot and does not attempt to satisfy this requirement for any of its readers