A solicitor has been banned for wrongly overcharging clients thousands of pounds, as reported in the Law Society Gazette.
For two and a half years, solicitor-deputy Alex Richard Guy is reported to have wrongly billed clients costs of almost £272,000 for work that had not been done – and charging almost £59,000 for work that was “not chargeable”.
Guy was director and head of Yorkshire practice Switalskis Solicitors’ Court of Protection department – where the monies were transferred into which have now been returned.
He also reportedly admitted to using a further client’s money to buy expensive products from an Apple store – he later said that they were bought for a client and he had intended to reimburse them for the item but had not got around to doing so.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Guy’s conduct was dishonest, deliberate, occurred over some time and involved taking advantage of vulnerable people, reported the Gazette.
After the firm had identified the concerns about raising bills for work that had not been done, Guy was suspended with immediate effect and it was reported to the SRA and the Office of the Public Guardian.
Guy was chosen as the client’s deputy to handle all of their property and affairs. A clinical negligence claim resulted in a £1.5 million lump sum and subsequent payments for one client, the majority of which was deposited into his bank account.
Even if there were personal factors that influenced his decision-making, Guy indicated in his sole attempt at mitigating the situation – which was not approved by the SRA – that he honestly repented to everyone concerned and that he was deeply ashamed of his behaviour.
The tribunal said he had caused “significant harm to the reputation of the profession and harmed vulnerable people who had placed trust in him”. He was ordered to pay £17,000 costs.