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A former Locke Lord partner has been struck off and ordered to pay a £70,000 fine for breaching rules set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), causing “immeasurable” harm to the profession’s reputation.
Jonathan Denton left the firm in 2015 and his actions saw his former firm struck with a record £500,000 fine from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) against a law firm in England and Wales.
Denton has now been struck off and ordered to pay roughly 70 per cent of the total £119,732.90 costs after being found guilty of multiple allegations of misleading third parties, failure to protect client money and knowingly making false statements among a host of others.
The Tribunal found Denton guilty of directing payments to and from client accounts that had nothing to do with Locke Lord’s business.
The SRA turned to Capsticks partner Daniel Purcell who instructed 23 Essex Street’s Paul Ozin QC in the matter.
Denton did not appear during the hearing and was not represented.
In his judgment, chair Mr Astle said: “The Tribunal found that the respondent’s conduct was motivated by financial gain. His conduct was planned and was a flagrant breach of the trust placed in him by his clients and investors who relied on his status as a solicitor, and as the solicitor to the Trusts, when providing him with their funds.”
Mr Astle went on to say: “The harm he had caused to the reputation of the profession was immeasurable, His conduct demonstrated a complete departure from the standards of integrity, probity and trustworthiness expected of a solicitor.”
Denton joined Locke Lord in 2012 after being an in-house counsel at private lender Berkeley House Investments where he specialised in financial services and banking issues. He joined as a partner at the firm, though his role transitioned to an of counsel position after less than two years at the firm. He received an annual salary of £50,000, earning a bonus of £14,487.31.
Denton’s penalty is far from the largest individual fine faced by a solicitor as the Oxford-based lawyer Nigel Harvie was ordered to pay a sum of £305,000 in 2015 after taking ownership of a woman’s house in return for her care and living costs.
A spokesperson for Locke Lord said: “The SRA and Locke Lord cooperatively resolved this matter last year when the SRA accepted our position that the firm and its senior officers did not act dishonestly or with conscious impropriety, or turn a blind eye to Denton’s conduct.
“We understand Denton continues not to cooperate with authorities, but this matter is now only between the SRA, government authorities and Denton. We are glad to have put this matter behind us, and again note the matters reviewed by the SRA concerned the actions of Denton and related only to clients for whom he worked.”
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