Solicitor driven by financial gain struck off
By Nicola Laver
A solicitor with a long, unblemished career was struck off for regulatory breaches motivated by financial gain. Vincent O’Neil was a partner at Town and Country Property Lawyers in 2014 when he agreed to buy a property from a family member, a client in relation to a related transaction. He failed to complete the purchase and discharge a mortgage – but failed to tell the client. O’Neil then continued acting on behalf of that client and another family member in a linked purchase, knowing a conflict had arisen or that there was a significant risk of conflict. He had also failed to disclose that the balance of the purchase monies for the linked property purchase would not be coming from the earlier sale.
O’Neill’s dishonestly resulted in a misleading certificate of title being sent to a lender client by a partner at his firm who had relied on and trusted him. He attempted to justify his actions as assisting family members, but the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found financial gain was his motivation.
The SDT described O’Neil’s conduct as deliberate, calculated and with “blatant self-interest”; and he had shown no real insight or remorse. He was struck off and ordered to pay £11,081.00 in costs.