A former Gateley employee has been barred from the profession and directed to pay a fine of £1,350 for gross misconduct.
Rusty Adams, who was not a solicitor at the firm, misled an individual into falsely believing he was working on behalf of the firm and had relevant expertise to undertake matrimonial work, according to a regulatory announcement on the Solicitors Regulation Authority website.
He then induced that individual to pay money directly to him under the guise of acting in relation to his divorce.
Adams did not undertake any work in relation to the divorce or any other matters on the person’s behalf.
The SRA has served Adams with a control of non-qualified staff order, meaning he cannot hold the title of employee, manager, head of legal practice or head of finance and administration, a manager or an employee in a licensed body.
According to the SRA’s record, Adams was employed at the firm for just seven months from 4 January to 28 July 2021, before he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
He was based in the firm’s Guildford office in the role of completions manager.
In a statement, Gateley said: “We confirm that Rusty Adams was employed by Gateley for a short time between January to July 2021, when he was dismissed for gross misconduct. In accordance with our regulatory obligations we reported the matter to the SRA.”
The SRA is seeking to overhaul its fining power when it comes to tackling misconduct in the U.K. legal industry. The SRA is consulting on plans which could see it increase misconduct fines for law firms and individual solicitors from a maximum of £2,000 to £25,000.