Solicitor struck off for serious misconduct
A London-based solicitor has been struck off for practising from two unlicensed firms ahead of making applications to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to have them authorised.
Olufsegun Afolayan-Jejeloye provided reserved legal activities as a sole practitioner from the firms between December 2016 and February 2018. He had been admitted to the roll on 15 December 2011 and practised at Dennings until 30 April 2015. He then began operating through the unauthorised firms, first Michael James Solicitors and latterly Micmatt Solicitors, which traded as Michael James Solicitors. On 13 November, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that AfolayanJejeloye had applied to the SRA for authorisation of Micmatt Solicitors on 24 January 2017, despite the fact he was already practising.
The application was withdrawn when an authorisation officer recommended it be refused due to management and governance risks. A second application was made on 20 December 2017, shortly before the SRA’s intervention into the firm. As well as carrying out reserved legal activities during this time, the respondent operated both a client and office account and received money from clients.
The SRA investigated Michael James Solicitors following a complaint from a solicitor after a hearing at Romford County Court where Afolayan-Jejeloye had represented the applicant. The solicitor had concerns about Afolayan-Jejeloye’s competence and that he may be operating from an unregulated firm. During the tribunal hearing in November, the respondent said all his clients had been close friends or members of his church and that he had mainly acted pro bono, only taking money when expenses were incurred. However, the tribunal found that: “The fact that the respondent had been charging individuals for the provision of legal services and how he came to know these individuals was of no relevance to the question of whether he was authorised.” In coming to a conclusion on Afolayan-Jejeloye’s culpability the tribunal found that he had been aware of his actions, was solely responsible for the misconduct and had been in breach of criminal law. In reaching its conclusion, the SDT said “the misconduct was so serious that a reprimand, fine or restriction order would not be a sufficient sanction.