17 June 2021
Elaine Saunders, a Graduate member of CILEx, admitted the following allegations of professional misconduct, that between May 2011 and November 2017, while employed as a fee earner in the conveyancing department at JWK Legal Group Limited (“the Firm”) she:
- Failed to maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct and justify trust in herself, her profession and the provision of legal services by engaging in conduct that could undermine or affect adversely the confidence and trust placed in her and her profession by her client, her employer, professional colleagues, the public and others, contrary to Principle 2, Outcome 2.2 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015;
- Failed to act effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles, contrary to Principle 8 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015; and
- Failed to identify, assess, manage and promptly address risks to money and assets entrusted to her by clients and others, contrary to Principle 9, Outcome 9.1 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015;
In that between May 2011 and November 2017, she:
- failed to consider whether the contents of marketing materials for fractional investment schemes concerning the buying and leasing of parking spaces and storage pods seen by her overstated the likely returns to potential buyers (some of whom were or might be unrepresented);
- failed to consider whether a “buyback” arrangement in the contractual documents for those investment schemes provided meaningful security for buyers (some of whom were or might be unrepresented); and
- caused or allowed transfers from the Firm’s Client Account of monies consisting of sums received from buyers (i.e. by way of the purchase price for the assets the buyers were acquiring) other than in respect of instructions relating to an underlying transaction in that the recipient of such transfers was not the seller of the asset or otherwise connected with the underlying transaction;
In consequence of which she was subjected to disciplinary proceedings by another regulator, namely the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and, on 28 September 2020, made the subject of a control order under s.43 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
CILEx Regulation accepted the admission and agreed a Determination by Consent with Elaine Saunders with the following sanction(s).
Sanction – Multiple sanctions
- Warning and Reprimand: Ms Saunders was reprimanded for her breaches of the CILEx Code of Conduct and warned as to her future conduct.
- Conditions: The continuation of Ms Saunders’ CILEx membership is subject to the following conditions: Ms Saunders must not –
- be employed or paid in relation to legal activities that consist of the provision of legal advice, assistance or representation in connection with the application of the law, or of the resolution of legal disputes, including but not limited to conveyancing work.
- own or be involved in the management of any business that carries out legal activities that consist of the provision of legal advice, assistance or representation in connection with the application of the law, or of the resolution of legal disputes, including but not limited to conveyancing work; and/or
- have control over, or access to, any client money provided or obtained for the purpose of the provision of legal advice, assistance or representation in connection with the application of the law, or of the resolution of legal disputes, including but not limited to conveyancing work;
without first obtaining written permission from CILEx Regulation (and any of its successors). Any such permission is subject to CILEx Regulation being satisfied that Ms Saunders is adequately supervised at all times in respect of the role and activities for which permission is sought.