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SRA intervention against solicitor upheld

'There is reason to think that Mr Elsdon has lost his ethical compass'

14 May 2015

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The High Court has ruled that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) was justified in intervening against a solicitor for mishandling clients' probate matters.

Mr Justice Newey ruled that Michael Elsdon and the firm has was the director of, Sai-Donne Limited, 'cannot safely be trusted with the administration of estates or other work'.

Elsdon's conduct came to the attention of the SRA during the administration of Kathleen Lilley's estate, during which Elsdon billed the estate fees of over £50,000.

Mrs Lillys son, Arthur Lilley, who was one of three beneficiaries and joint executor of the estate alongside Michael Elsdon, successfully challenged the fees in court, where they were reduced to £8,000.

Elsdon subsequently transferred £40,000 from the estate into his office account and billed the estate for a further £20,000, which he again transferred into his own office account.

Arthur Lilley and Michael Elsdon then went to court in an attempt to remove each other as executors of the estate, at which point the Law Society learned of these events and intervened in the matter.

Elsdon then applied for the intervention to be withdrawn in The Law Society v Elsdon & Ors [2015] EWHC 1326 (Ch).

Delivering judgement, Mr Justice Newey ruled: 'It seems to me that the risks attached to withdrawing the intervention outweigh those of continuing it…the available evidence appears to me to provide clear and cogent evidence of dishonesty as well as indicating breaches of the Code and Accounts Rules.

'On the basis of the (admittedly less than comprehensive) material before me, I consider that Mr Elsdon and Sai-Donne cannot safely be trusted with the administration of estates or other work.'

He added: 'I agree with Mr Dutton that there is reason to think that Mr Elsdon has lost his ethical compass.'

 

Categorised in:

Wills, Trusts & Probate