Solicitor struck off for failing to pay £27,600 Stamp Duty on behalf of client

A solicitor has been struck off for failing to pay both stamp duty and Land Registry fees resulting in a flat not being registered to the purchaser four years after the transaction had apparently gone through.

To make matters worse, the firm Dalida Rajeshree Jhugroo worked at subsequently folded two months after the stated completion date in 2010 with the final state of the £27,660 plus £550 registration fee “not known”.

The cash purchase of the property meant there was no mortgage lender to check the transfer had completed.

Five years after the completion was meant to have taken place, the Tribunals says Ms Jhugroo admitted to a series of failings over email, saying she was “devastated”.

The email, dated 25th September read: “The files were in storage as stated together with the accounts, unfortunately they are no longer available. As you are aware I filed for bankruptcy and was unable to sustain the cost of the storage.

“During the summer of 2010 I was trying to close down the firm on my own without any support staff as I was unable to pay salaries. All monies were paid into client account and due to the hectic situation the property was not registered. This was not done deliberately or intentionally, it was an oversight.

“I cannot add anything further to the matter and I am devastated as the mistakes that have taken place.”

The Tribunal accepted that the Respondent had had no specific intention to act unprofessionally  however concluded the breach so serious that “no lesser sanction than striking off the Roll was appropriate and proportionate”.

According to the SDLT: “Her Firm had been in a mess since the departure of her business partner in about April 2010, some five months before the misconduct occurred, and no harm had been intended. The Respondent had been trusted by her client, Ms L, and had breached that trust by taking the client’s money and not using it for the intended purpose. The Respondent had had sole control over what happened within the Firm. The Respondent had been an experienced solicitor, having been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors about 12 years before the relevant events.

“The harm caused to Ms L had been serious. Her title to a property, which she had purchased for nearly £700,000 had not been registered and she had lost the chance to sell the property when she wanted to do so in 2014. The harm to Ms L’s interests was significant and readily foreseeable, even if there had been no intention to put Ms L in such a difficult position. Further, there was significant harm done to the reputation of the profession. The public would, rightly, expect solicitors they instructed to carry out conveyancing matters properly. Here, the title was not registered, when the client had provided all of the necessary funds; this appeared to be a total failure of a key part of the transaction.”

In addition to being struck off, the tribunal also ordered Ms Jhugroo to pay costs of £4,816.85.

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