Solicitor to face dishonesty probe

The now closed Unsworth and Wood offices in Wigan

The now closed Unsworth and Wood offices in Wigan

A Wigan solicitor is facing disciplinary action after an industry watchdog closed his law practice to investigate dishonesty claims.

Jonathan McAreavey is set to appear before a tribunal next month following a probe by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The under-fire legal expert was at the head of King Street-based firm Unsworth and Wood.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) service confirmed to the Evening Post an initial hearing date has been set for early November.

Unsworth and Wood was shut down last year by the SRA with ongoing cases transferred to Bradford-based Gordons LLP while an investigation took place.

A statement said the grounds of intervention was because its panel found “there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Mr McAreavey in connection with his practice at Unsworth and Wood. It was necessary to protect the interests of clients (former or potential) and any beneficiaries of any trust of which he is or was a trustee.”

He was also suspected to have breached aspects of the Solicitors Act 1974.

Following the investigation, the allegations against Mr McAreavey have been outlined to the SDT which has decided there is a case to answer, an SRA spokesman said.

The watchdog will now have to prove its case to the same standard of proof as in criminal cases: beyond reasonable doubt. And Mr McAreavey will have the opportunity to counter the claims.

A substantive hearing - where both parties can exchange evidence - is set for November 9 with the potential for further hearing dates soon after.

The SDT can levy fines of more than £2,000 and is the only body that can order a solicitor to be struck off.