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Solicitor billed 68 hours in one day

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She was also discovered living at a property purchased using the assets of a client estate

A solicitor who billed 68 hours for one day’s work has been removed from the profession.

Joanne Power, who was the sole principal at Diamonds Legal in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, was also found to be living at a property purchased using money from an estate she was administering. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) closed the firm in 2017, following an investigation.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) heard how in one matter concerning an estate worth in excess of £120,000, Power had billed £85,000 plus VAT for her service.

The lawyer who took over the estate following the SRA’s intervention described the bill as unjustified and noted that the firm’s own records stated that the 149 hours 48 minutes billed (at an hourly rate of £260) had recorded value of £38,896.00 plus VAT. Continuing, the judgment reveals that Power’s “time recording included an entry for sixty eight hours of work on 9 August 2017”.

The tribunal also heard how Power had purchased a residential property in Loughton, approximately three miles from her office, using the assets of a client estate. Power, who qualified in 2002, accepted that following the purchase of the property she then occupied it, albeit “only occasionally”.

Power’s occupation of the property came to light after she was spotted by an SRA forensic investigation officer (FIO) leaving the property, with her dogs, early one morning. The SDT said:

“[Power] had treated the property as if it was her own, including paying all the bills, when she knew that the property did not belong to her and that she was occupying it without the knowledge or consent of those who were entitled to benefit from the estate. [Power], whilst not accepting the extent of her occupation, had accepted that what she did was wrong.”

Power was also found to have failed to provide “adequate or accurate information” to clients about likely overall costs at the outset of matters, as well as made transfers from client account to office account of sums “which were in excess of those which might properly be charged for the work undertaken.”

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She admitted all the allegations made against her, accepted that her professional standards may have fallen short of what was expected following “errors of judgement”. Power, however, claimed her actions were “well-intentioned” and “maintained her position that any acts, omissions or failings on her part were never with dishonest intent”.

In its ruling, the tribunal described Power’s misconduct as “deliberate, calculated and repeated”. In each case, it found that she had acted with lack of integrity in relation to all the charges against her. Moreover, it found that she acted with dishonesty in relation to all but one charge of not providing information relating to costs and bills.

The judgment continues: “A suspension was not sufficient sanction given the seriousness of the misconduct and the need to protect the public and the reputation of the profession. Where there had been a finding of dishonesty as in this case this would almost invariably lead to striking off unless there were exceptional circumstances. The tribunal determined that the appropriate sanction was strike-off. It then considered whether there were any exceptional circumstances and decided that there were none.”

The SDT ordered that Power be struck off the roll and pay costs of £46,600.

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28 Comments

Anonymous

£46,600 for an uncontested slam dunk? Power should have got a gig at the SRA. It seems like a natural fit.

Anonymous

That’s nothing, I billed 68 hours in one hour once

Jeff

I’m going to use the F word now….

FRAUD!!!

Anonymous

“error of judgement”! Send her to a prison. yaeah mayn!

Kirkland NQ

Cute

Anonymous

did somebody say Dechert ….

Anonymous

46k costs is hard to understand.

Anonymous

Looks like Hermionne Granger has quit the wizard world and become a muggle solicitor.

Anonymous

Sorry, that was meant to be an up-thumb

Anonymous

Comments criticizing Alex, his awful event or his fragile ego will be deleted without a trace. This has been a public safety announcement.

Anonymous

Well, given that they’re so obviously coming from a swivel-eyed, obsessive troll, that can only be for the greater good.

Anonymous

That’s really not true – you can’t appreciate the scale of it because the comments are deleted so quickly, that advertorial for the conference had a wide discussion about the fact that it’s being sold as something it’s not, being advertised as a sell-out event when it isn’t and is ludicrously expensive. But then the comments were all deleted and disabled, open your eyes mate.

Anonymous

Hi Alex xox

Anonymous

I’m not Alex. I’ve criticised Alex, and doubtless I will do again, but not by way of the repetitive, needy bludgeoning that 12.58 gives him. 12.58 talks of a fragile ego. How fragile and attention-seeking does an ego have to be to pepper every post with the same anodyne bumslurry?

Anonymous

It only takes a few seconds, I work full-time so can’t do it constantly.

Anonymous

Quiet, Tim.

Anonymous

Who put 20p in you? I think you are assuming I am replying to a different comment to the one which I actually replied to.

Anonymous

I think this is a fair judgment. 68 hours in a day is a farce.

Alex Aldridge has a bit of a complex too.

Anonymous

It’s just a perk of the job.

Anonymous

When I grow up I want to be briefed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Could this be the next Career Conundrum? Pleassssseeeee

Anonymous

The decision-maker in this matter at the SDT is a fan of He-Man.

“I have the POWER!”

Anonymous

Would you look at that, posts mentioning that Alex deletes comments critical of his blog without trace have been deleted without trace

Anonymous

People stupid enough to appoint a solicitor as an executor deserve all they get.

Anonymous

This is a problem that can only be solved with more diversity

Anonymous

Par for the course in the City. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen (i) roll in at 10.30am, (ii) 90 mins for gym + lunch, (iii) hour or so of idle chatter, (iv) leave at 7pm, (v) 12 hours billed.

Anonymous

Shocking. How is it that she is able to set up a new business now as a Mediator?

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