Two Wigan solicitors set to face watchdog over 'failings'

Two lawyers are set to face a professional watchdog over allegations that they allowed a shortfall to develop on client accounts at their Wigan firm.

Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 1:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th April 2018, 1:21 pm
Kathleen Wilson, of the former Singleton Day Solicitors

An investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) was sparked in November 2016 into GS Law Northest, which traded as Singleton Day.

Practising certificates for Mark John Smith, 37, and Kathleen Wilson, 38, co-directors of the operation, based in Ormskirk Road, Pemberton, were suspended.

Intervening agents were called in, from Stephensons Solicitors, and case files and paperwork were seized for examination.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mark John Smith, of the former Singleton Day Solicitors

The SRA has now confirmed that Mr Smith and Ms Wilson are set to face a hearing before the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal on three main charges.

The pair, between July 2015 and November 2016, are alleged to have failed to comply with accounting rules, including not having proper internal control systems, and not having kept proper records to show the accurate position of monies held on behalf of clients.

Further claims are that the duo have not put right accounting breaches, when they have been discovered by investigators.

The lawyers must also answer charges that they failed to “behave in a way that maintains the trust placed in (them) and in the provision of legal services” or comply with legal and regulatory obligations.

Mark John Smith, of the former Singleton Day Solicitors

The SRA says that the lawyers also failed to act in the best interests of clients and run their business effectively, over the same timeframe, which included accepting cash from clients, in circumstances where there were client account shortfalls from at least August 2015 onwards.

A spokesman for the SRA said: “The allegations are subject to a Hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and are as yet unproven.”

The firm first started trading as Goddard Smith, in 2008, but was later rebranded as Singleton Day.

Shortly after the SRA intervention, according to Companies House, the firm’s registered office changed from Ormskirk Road to an address in Belgrave Square, Darwen.

An application was made by the Registrar of Companies in March 2017 to strike the name of GS Law North West from the record and dissolve the firm.

But this was suspended a fortnight later after an objection was raised.

A spokesman for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said the case was scheduled for a two-day hearing, beginning on November 6.