Solicitor Struck Off for receiving a £100 "tip".
03 April 2022
In a recent decision by Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, a Criminal Defence Solicitor, who had been on the Roll of Solicitors for over 40 years, was struck off. The tribunal was invited to accept a ‘Statement of agreed facts and outcome’ after he received £100 from a client in 2018, which he then tried to pass off as a ‘tip’. He was ordered to pay £16,950 in costs.
At first blush, the circumstances may appear disproportionately harsh, however, the facts themselves actually demonstrate a continued and deliberate streak of dishonesty and attempts to conceal wrongdoing.
On 27th September 2018, the Solicitor, Mr. Garstang, whilst employed by Cartwright King Ltd , attended to represent a client at the police station, a matter which ultimately concluded without charges.
Following his representation, Mr. Garstang then asked the Client for £100 to cover his time and expenses, and the Client then made a bank transfer payment directly to his account.
Mr. Garstang was aware at the time of asking this, that he would in fact be remunerated by the LAA for the representation, and a bill for the same was included in his firms’ monthly bill to the LAA.
A few months after receiving the payment, Mr. Garstang contacted the Client again, this time requesting that the Client write him a letter, stating that the £100 was a ‘thank you’. The Client felt disconcerted by this and declined, and in a later statement to the SRA explained he had been expressly told by Mr. Garstang at the police station the money was for time and expenses.
The issue came to light in May 2019, and the firm referred the matter to the SRA.
Mr. Garstang was charged with several matters arising out of this conduct, including 3 counts of dishonesty - for inappropriate requesting and receiving a payment, for submitting a claim to the LAA when he knew it had been paid for by other means, and requesting the Client write a letter saying it was a ‘thank you’.
At an early stage Mr Garstang accepted these charges, and sought to remove himself voluntarily from the Roll, and it was agreed a strike off was the appropriate sanction.
It would seem a proportionate response to 3 counts of dishonesty, and in the Judgment it was said “these are serious matters, including breaches of the requirement to act with integrity, act in best interests of clients, and maintain trust in the Solicitor and provision and legal services”.
The only question that does sit uncomfortably perhaps is the seemingly very high costs ordered, £16,950, in a matter that had an agreed outcome and did not require a hearing.
The full judgement can be found HERE