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Ghost of Christmas Past returns for two solicitors rebuked for serious misbehaviour

Solicitors’ conduct ‘neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent’

10 July 2017

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A Liverpool solicitor who punched a female colleague in the face while socialising with other members of his firm a few days before Christmas is one of two lawyers who were rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority for serious misbehaviour last week.

Richard Lacey, co-founder of Parry Welch Lacey, hit the woman when they were out with a group of work colleagues on 21 December 2015.

Lacey subsequently attended a police station for a voluntary interview and accepted a conditional caution for assault by beating. The conditions for the caution were that he would apologise in writing to the victim and pay her £150 compensation, which he did.

Under a regulatory settlement with the SRA, Lacey, who is no longer at the firm, agreed he fell short of a solicitor’s duty to uphold the rule of law and to behave in a way that maintains trust in the profession.

The criminal law specialist said he was dealing with some difficult personal circumstances at the time, which he believed had an impact on his conduct.

The SRA said an agreed outcome was an appropriate way of dealing with the incident. The solicitor’s conduct was ‘neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent’.

In a separate case, solicitor John Burnand has also been rebuked for ‘behaving in an inappropriate, physical manner’ towards several female staff members during the firm’s Christmas party on 8 December 2016.

Burnand was a partner at Winckworth Sherwood at the time. Although none of the staff made a complaint, the firm investigated the incident and Burnand resigned less than a week later after publishing an apology on the firm’s intranet.

The SRA said Burnand’s conduct had been reckless and was neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent.

Burnand had been drinking before the incident but in mitigation the SRA took account of the fact that he had shown remorse, that he had resigned, cooperated with the investigation, and had not had any regulatory issues before.

In both cases the solicitors have agreed to paying the SRA’s investigation costs of £600 each.

Solicitors Journal

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David Crawford 16 July 2017

This is a slap in the face for the victim. Plus £600 costs only when others have had to pay tens of thousands... Whatever happened to proportionality?

PS I have been slapped in the face by the LSG which, without being specific, say I have breached its terms and conditions... Those who complained have, of course, remained anonymous. So, whatever happened to Magna Carta? I do not know who my accusers are, nor the nature of their accusations, but still the LSG finds me guilty. What hope is there for the future of this profession?

David Crawford