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Three lawyers from Burnley firm face being struck off
THREE partners from a Burnley law firm accused of breaching a string of regulations face being struck off by the industry watchdog.
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) said John McNabb, Kimberley Bridge, and Tracey Stansfield, from SFN Solicitors, had ‘a case to answer’ in relation to a failure to pay clients.
A fourth member of staff, Nicola Roach, who is not a qualified solicitor, also faces disciplinary action.
The Red Lion Street firm closed its office at short notice last October and the business was formally wound down by the SRA in January this year.
Ms Bridge has since been arrested and bailed by Lancashire Police on suspicion of fraud.
An SRA spokesman said it was likely a solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal would be held in London next year, although a date is yet to be confirmed.
Mr McNabb, Ms Bridges and Ms Stansfield all face the prospect of being struck off the SRA’s roll if they are found guilty at the independent hearing.
The SRA also has the power to impose unlimited fines or suspend the solicitors indefinitely.
Full details of the allegations have yet to be published, but the four workers are accused of a combined total of 48 separate counts of wrongdoing.
Mr McNabb faces 11 allegations, including a failure to replace ‘money improperly withdrawn’ from a client’s account and a failure to keep accounting records properly updated.
Ms Bridge must answer 18 allegations. She is accused of making excess withdrawals from general client accounts and withholding documents from an SRA officer.
Ms Stansfield faces 10 allegations, including a failure to take out qualifying indemnity insurance while the nine accusations levelled at Ms Roach include a failure to act in the best interests of clients.
Although she not a solicitor, the SRA has the power to prevent any firm offering legal services from employing Ms Roach in the future.
The inquiry centres on whether the employees breached the Solicitors’ Accounts Rules 1998 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
The alleged offences are suspected to have taken place between November 2010 and November 2012.
A spokesman for the SRA said: “The decision to prosecute means the SRA has proven to the independent tribunal that there is a case to answer.”
SFN Solicitors had specialised in personal injury, conveyancing, matrimonial, wills, probate and commercial law.
None of the four could be contacted to comment.
Last October, Mr McNabb told the Lancashire Telegraph that ill health, market conditions and insurance costs were to blame for the firm’s closure.