The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has struck off a Yorkshire-based solicitor who used client funds to bail out his struggling law firm.
Robert Wiggans was a partner at West Yorkshire firm Hellewell Pasley & Brewer, as well as its compliance officer for finance and administration. He misappropriated more than £86,000 of client funds to meet overheads.
Hellewell Pasley & Brewer, which had four offices in West Yorkshire, was shut down in 2017 following an intervention from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Wiggans told the SDT that he intended to pay back the misappropriated funds, but his “culpability was assessed as high”.
The SDT said in its ruling: “The harm caused was inevitably substantial when client monies, which ought to be sacrosanct, were improperly withdrawn from client accounts. Despite the respondent’s stated intention to repay the amounts withdrawn, when the firm’s finances allowed, there was the obvious potential for loss in such circumstances, and the damage to the reputation of the profession was substantial.”
“The only appropriate sanction that would properly reflect the gravity of the misconduct and protect the public and the reputation of the profession was a strike-off.”
Wiggans was also ordered to pay £9,777.96 in costs.