In an “agreed outcome,” the tribunal fined Locke Lord £500,000 after the firm admitted it failed to stop a former London partner from using a client account for “dubious financial arrangements.”
The record comes just months after the previous record was set. In July, White & Case was fined £250,000 by the SDT for acting recklessly and breaching conduct rules
when it failed to identify a conflict of interest and failed to protect confidential information.
White & Case’s record fine broke a record that was set only in March this year when Clyde & Co and three partners were fined £80,000 for breaching account and anti-money laundering rules.
Locke Lord’s rogue partner, Jonathan Denton, left the firm in October 2015. The firm also admitted that it failed to stop Denton from “directing or requesting payments into, and transfers or withdrawals from, the firm’s client account” which were not related to an underlying legal matter.
Locke Lord was found to have lacked systems to safeguard against conflicts of interest. It also failed to supervise the solicitor while he was working at the firm despite the firm knowing of indicators that necessitated supervision.
A spokesperson said that the SRA investigation concerned the actions of Denton and relate only to clients for whom he worked and that no other clients were affected by these actions.
“We regret what has happened, but we are pleased to note that 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,” the spokesperson said.
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Locke Lord has earned the unwanted distinction of being slapped with the largest fine from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in the UK.