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Solicitor who ignored court orders rebuked by regulator

SRA: proportionate outcome

A solicitor who failed to comply with court orders has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after the judge complained to the regulator.

Paul Ireland, a sole practitioner in Warrington, accepted his sanction in a regulatory settlement agreement that means he avoids a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

The court told the SRA that Mr Ireland appeared at a county court by telephone, representing the defendant in a civil dispute. An order was made requiring him to file a perfected order, but he did not do so.

Three months later, court wrote to him, requiring him to file it within a week, but again he did not comply.

A further order was made, stating that unless Mr Ireland filed the perfected order by the following week, he should attend the court to explain his failure. Mr Ireland neither filed the order nor attended court as required.

Mr Ireland attributed his failures due to administrative errors at his office. The agreement said: “He confirmed that by the time he became aware of the orders it was too late for him to take action. He did not contact the court to inform it of the reasons for his failures.”

He wrote to the Court some months later apologising for his conduct.

Mr Ireland admitted that he failed to uphold the proper administration of justice in breach of principle 1 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failed to achieve outcomes 5.3 and 5.6 of the code of conduct – you must comply with court orders that place obligations on you, and you must comply with your duties to the court.

The SRA said the agreed outcome was “a proportionate outcome in the public interest” given that the conduct was “neither trivial nor justifiably inadvertent”.

It took into account that Mr Ireland had a clean record up to this point, has put systems in place to avoid future breaches, and has apologised for his misconduct.

Mr Ireland will also pay costs of £300.