Struck Out: Solicitor struck off after mishandling client money

February 12, 2020

1 min read

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What's going on here?

A solicitor has been struck off after she spent £80,000 of client money on an office refurbishment, and paid out a further £165,000 to email scams.

What does this mean?

Jayanthi Reddy Saganti has been banned from practice by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the body that governs all solicitors in England and Wales, after being caught mishandling vast amounts of client funds. £80,000 was spent dishonestly by Ms Saganti on refurbishing her firm’s new offices, whilst £165,000 was paid out to fraudulent email scams pretending to be sent from another law firm. Ms Saganti followed payment instructions received by email and failed to check whether they were correct or not. These actions were serious breaches of the SRA’s code of conduct, a new edition of which was introduced in November 2019.

What's the big picture effect?

The SRA Standards and Regulations contains a Code of Conduct that all solicitors and firms must follow. These rules were changed in November 2019, becoming shorter and less prescriptive. Whilst the SRA intended these changes to offer more flexibility, solicitors and the firms that they work for must now use greater professional judgment to ensure they comply with standards. 

In this case, Ms Saganti’s breaches included acting dishonestly, failing to record transactions involving client money and failing to protect and withhold the client money that the other law firm expected to receive from her. The SRA shut down her firm in February 2019 and banned Ms Saganti from future legal practice. Explaining their decision, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal stated it was “the minimum necessary to protect the public and the reputation of the profession”. This shows the intention behind the new changes to professional conduct standards and the severity of punishment if these rules are breached.

Report written by Jasmine Kobewka

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