Both partners of Allansons LLP, which runs an unregulated investment scheme offering returns of 50% within 6-18 months for investing in litigation funding, have been fined a combined £27,000 (plus £17,500 costs) and been prohibited from acting as managers or owners of an authorised solicitor, due to client money breaches.
Roger Allanson ran Allansons LLP as a sole practitioner until 2006, when he was joined by Mohamed Patel.
On 19 and 20 December 2018, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard a series of allegations against Roger Allanson and Mohamed Patel in regard to their conduct over a period of six years:
- allowing the client account of Allansons LLP to be used to administer payments in respect of debt management plans when there was no underlying legal transaction
- allowing improper payments totalling £890.90 to be made out of the client account
- causing or permitting a sum in excess of £600,000 representing monies paid in settlement of requests for fees for work to be undertaken by the firm to be held in Allanson’s client account and not in the office account
- paying client money into the office account instead of the client account
- allowing client ledgers to have an overdrawn balance
- failing to maintain accounting records properly to show Allansons’ dealings with client and office money
- failing to conduct client account reconciliations every five weeks
- failing to manage his business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound financial and risk management principles
- failing to provide information to the Legal Ombudsman as part of an investigation into a complaint against his firm
- failing to respond when the SRA asked for an explanation of his conduct in failing to cooperate with the Legal Ombudsman.
Both Allanson and Patel admitted all the allegations (after initally denying the first).
The Tribunal noted that these failings occurred through “inadvertance and was not attributable to an improper motive”, and that “no loss was caused to clients as a result of Mr Allanson’s actions”.
It goes on to say however that
his actions in using his client account to administer payments were objectionable in themselves because it is no part of a solicitor’s practice to provide a banking facility to clients through the client account and this is not an activity for which he was regulated.
Allanson was fined £17,000 plus £10,000 costs. Mohamed Patel was fined £10,000 plus £7,500 costs. The tribunal’s published decision notes that Patel resigned from Allansons in 2017. Companies House however shows that Patel was re-appointed to Allansons LLP in October 2018, which is not mentioned in the decision.
- act as a manager or owner of any authorised body.
- act as a compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) or compliance officer for finance and administration (COFA) for any authorised body.
- hold, receive, or have access to the client money, or act as a signatory to any client account, or have the power to authorise electronic transfers from any client or office account.
These restrictions were imposed in September 2018, with a three month stay in Allanson’s case (presumably to give him time to step down, whereas Patel had by that time already resigned). Due to these conditions already being in place at the time of the Tribunal’s decision, the Tribunal did not impose a further Restriction Order.
Where these restrictions on Roger Allanson’s ability to run his practice leaves the investment scheme run by Allansons is unclear.
At time of writing, Roger Allanson remains the sole person identified as a Partner on Allansons’ website, and Companies House still identifies Allanson as having a 50-75% controlling stake in Allansons LLP.