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‘Extremely overworked’ City lawyer fined £2,500 for erroneously expensing Uber journeys twice

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Fladgate solicitor hauled before disciplinary tribunal

A stressed-out solicitor at a City law firm has been fined £2,500 after accidentally double claiming £200 of expenses.

Abel Manukyan, then an assistant solicitor with Fladgate, erroneously claimed back the cost of several taxi journeys home from the office without realising he had already expensed them to another client.

Manukyan explained that he had forwarded some Uber receipts from his personal email account to his work account to claim the cost back without realising that he had already claimed for them. The Armenian lawyer, who came to the UK on a prestigious Chevening Scholarship in 2004, said that he had been “extremely overworked and was suffering from stress and depression” at the time.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) nevertheless hauled him before a disciplinary tribunal over the £202.15 in duplicate claims. The panel said that the mix-up represented a “breach of the absolute duty of trust and good faith which he owed to both Fladgate (as his employer) and his individual clients”.

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Although it accepted that the duplicate claims weren’t deliberate, the tribunal said that it was an error “that no solicitor of his experience should have made”. Manukyan qualified as a solicitor in 2013 and worked for Fladgate between November 2014 and June 2017.

The tribunal added:

“Although Fladgate has, in fact, now repaid the clients affected, Mr. Manukyan’s actions were nevertheless capable of causing them a minor financial loss. Mr. Manukyan’s actions had some impact on the reputation of the profession as shown by his admission of a breach of Principle 6. However the impact on the reputation of the profession is limited given that the duplicate payments were a mistake and immediately admitted to by Mr. Manukyan as soon as they were put to him by Fladgate when he became aware of his mistake.”

Manukyan was fined £2,500 and now works as an immigration lawyer.

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86 Comments

Anonymous

SRA strikes again. Absolute joke.

(121)(1)

Anonymous

To be fair, he should have noticed the mistake. I perfectly understand how you can bill something on a wrong matter if you work till 2am that night, but you can always amend that later.

(5)(12)

Anon

Grow up! Did you actually read the article? It said he was stressed out and depressed. People make mistakes – you clearly don’t. Christ, do you think with his workload the expenses were at forefront of mind. Just remember idiot, judge people by all means, be perfect for the rest of your life. I’m sure that you have made mistakes you have not corrected.

(30)(4)

Anonymous

Precisely what I said – nobody is perfect, it is ok to make a mistake. But this mistake must be (and easily can be) corrected before sending the client bill.

£200 of Uber bills mean that there were multiple extensive Uber trips (£50-£55 is what I get for almost an hour long trip) billed several times. It was not just 1 random mistake, but a series of mistakes.

At the same time it is great that SRA did not revoke the licence, that would be way too harsh.

(3)(10)

Anonymous

This could have happened to anyone.

Totally disproportionate penalty.

As usual, SRA helps itself to a four figure chunk of hard-earned cash for a minor slip-up with minimal culpability.

(49)(0)

Anonymous

Or indeed no culpability, because SRA accepted that it was not deliberate.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

I’m pretty sure every lawyer in a city firm has accidentally double expensed a receipt or expensed a receipt to the wrong client.

If this article is accurate and it really was a small mistake, picked up by Fladgate, he apologised and the clients were refunded then it’s no business of the SRA and I can’t see why he is reported.

Given the sanction / statement from the SRA though it implies there was something more here than a simple mistake.

(18)(0)

Laurence

Fladgate must have had something to do with escalating it to the SRA. There is something more going on, and we should be looking more closely into why Fladgate would choose to do this over a inconsequential mistake.

(9)(0)

Laurence

Fladgate must have had something to do with escalating it to the SRA.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Solicitors Accounts Rules. The firm’s COFA has to report all material breaches to the SRA.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed. They even accepted it wasn’t deliberate. Never mind the fine the humiliation of having your name dragged through mud is enough to cause anyone severe stress.

(8)(0)

jULIAN

Read between the lines. There was probably a lot more to it

(1)(1)

Br

Yes, there must be more to it. If there wasn’t, the decision would have been illogical, unreasonable, and disproportionate. And we all know that the SRA is, by definition, incapable of making illogical, unreasonable and disproportionate decisions.

(2)(0)

Bradlaugh

Why should we have to “read between the lines”? The SRA talk about transparency, and surely clarity is vital here. Isn’t that utterly BASIC ?! Please explain – as a non-lawyer I’m genuinely confused at how anyone, let alone a lawyer, could suggest that the SRA might have reasons for issuing this sanction, but declines to be open about them. The regulator is supposedly there to reassure the public, I’m told.

The regulator has issued what appears to be a disproportionate punishment, especially when compared to the standard “Letter of Advice” for such things as misleading the court. They need to be clear about the reasons for this.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Now works as an immigration lawyer lol

(21)(4)

Anonymous

I like how LC have drafted it in such a way that it comes off as part of his sanctions from the SRA.

(40)(0)

Anonymous

He was already an immigration lawyer at Fladgate you idiot.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

I love how people think they can take the piss when they clearly haven’t even read the article.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Can we please only offer training contracts to British students? This is not racist. In France, Germany, Italy and the US – TCs/first year associate jobs are only offered to people of their own country.

(91)(119)

Future trainee 2020

Interesting point! I doubt the SRA would implement that policy as loony lefties and Europeans would start causing a stir.

(53)(66)

Anon

If good enough yes.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

That’s incorrect. One can work in any EU country as a lawyer as a citizen of another EU country, provided you meet the requisite qualifications, i.e. a law degree completed in that given jurisdiction and passing the local bar, usually via a bar exam (e.g. the Staatsexamen in Germany).

The US is more complicated, as one requires visa sponsorship from an employer to work there if you’re not a US citizen, but that is irrespective of whether you flip burgers or work at Skadden.

Nothing to do with nationality.

(35)(39)

Anonymous

Totally disagree. Law firms in European countries have a strong preference to hire their own people and actively discriminate against British applicants. TCs should only be offered to British students and we should be supporting our own people first.

(58)(66)

Anonymous

This is absolute horseshit. Get the f*ck outta here with your nativist, little Englander opinions you gammon.

(62)(55)

Galahad5

Love how this horseshit got downgraded from “European Law firms DO this” to “They have a strong preference for…” at the merest hint of opposition.

Poor ickle snowflake

(33)(26)

Anonymous

Ok Mr Van Der Fuckard

Anonymous

We should also extend this to university places. British people should have priority when applying to Russell Group universities. We should educate our own over European and Chinese applicants. In the US, all Ivy League schools have a maximum international student quota of 5%. If you look at LSE, it’s 50% Chinese, 40% European, 5% other and only 5% British.

(55)(40)

Third Gen

This would have the effect of an affirmative action policy (along with all its flaws), however lacking any of the benefits of such policy.

In other words, a shite idea and the sort of pathetic Little Britain mindset that is causing economic ruin. Thank God people like you are going extinct.

(38)(58)

Future Slaughter and May Trainee 2020

Have fun doing TC apps all summer while a party in the Bahamas.

(37)(21)

Anonymous

No one’s believing you kid – and please stop sullying Queen Mary’s / Slaughters’ reputation by being an online fraudster lmao

Anonymous

While a ‘party in the Bahamas’ what?

Anon

God help Slaughter and May with the grammar you display!

Anonymous

Sounds like someone who can’t take the competition… don’t worry, all the decent British grads get TCs. Not sure about you.

(53)(34)

Anonymous

Hear hear. Closed-minded gammons like the OP give the profession a bad name.

(26)(35)

Fine China

So pent up rage over personal failure DOES translate into bigotry…

(47)(23)

Mc trainee

The accent they can’t help. But the English thing is true. There’s 4 french trainees in my intake and can’t understand anything. Terrible English.

(16)(5)

UCLad

There’s a reason why they’ve been hired over you despite their accents.

(17)(26)

Anonymous

DDD LLL

(0)(0)

Fine China

I don’t “have have” a weird accent, and probably speak English just as well as you. Sorry to hear that you’re having problems finding a job – so do others of different races and nationalities.

(24)(21)

Anonymous

Astounding how openly racist people are these days.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

The keyboard racists are in force today. One can only hope this is a handful of cretins and trolls commenting on LC and not City lawyers at large.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

China is trying to infiltrate our country. First with Huawei and now Chinese trainee solicitors

(16)(4)

Bristol LLM

Is your own country not good enough for you? Why are you coming here with your begging bowl?

(8)(14)

Fine China

It’s just business – obviously my firm values my skills, which are independent of my race or nationality.

I don’t think a British expat in HK / Singapore / Beijing / Tokyo is begging, do you?

Then again, don’t bother answering – I don’t expect you to land a job here, much less thrive overseas. Enjoy your studies 🙂

(0)(0)

your favourite immig

big burn lmao

(0)(0)

Anonymous

You sound like a triggered left wing Marxist scumbag.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

If someone comes to the UK from a foreign country, successfully completes a degree in a different language to their mother tongue, learning about the laws of a country not their own and then gets offered a job instead of you, you should have worked harder.

Simple as that.

(29)(16)

Anonymous

Ded at the one or two bigots spending hours upvoting their own comments rather than work towards their “LLBs” and “LLMs”

(17)(6)

4th generation immigrant. Family in UK since 1890s. Should I “go home”?

Whoa! Seriously, LC?

You delete numerous comments from some stories that are clearly intended to be humorous but allow this borderline Nazi rhetoric to stay?

And you- anonymous- stop misusing our flag for racist purposes!

(0)(1)

Anon

But why would law firms ever do that if they would benefit more from offering TCs to someone on the basis of their merit irrespective of their nationality? A simple question really.

(8)(1)

Arbiter

alt right cucks getting exposed online. losers in life and on the keyboard lmao

(6)(0)

European

They are allowed to offer TCs to British students. The reason why European law firms do not usually offer TCs to British law students is because (1) you actually need to have the relevant qualifications to apply and (2) you have to be fluent in the language.
It is simply a fact that almost the totality of British law students in the UK does not speak any European language other than English, or at least not to the level of proficiency required to provide legal advice in a foreign language (aka A level French is clearly not sufficient). On the other hand, there’s plenty of students from mainland Europe with exceptional language skills, who can produce legal work in English which is on pair with, if not superior to, their British counterparts.
I also don’t imagine that many British students apply for TCs in other European countries in the first instance, as the prospects for an international legal career are in any event higher in the UK (and salaries are much more competitive).
The US is another story altogether as (1) it’s outside the EU (so there’s VISA issues involved) and (2) TCs don’t exist in the US.

(9)(1)

Laurence

This is a discussion for a different thread. Would be great if people would only comment on the article above!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Petty. If it was a woman/middle-eastern, they wouldn’t have been fined…

(2)(17)

Anonymous

Feminists are ruining the legal profession.

(29)(20)

Andon

@ Anonymous: Jul 17 2019 10:56am

“Feminists (and others) are changing the legal profession from a cosy upper middle class white males’ boys club into something more inclusive and egalitarian”

There. I fixed it for you.

Also, what on earth does this lawyer being fined for a f*ck up have to do with feminism?

(19)(21)

Anonymous

Stfu loony lefty

(15)(13)

Anon

I see the alt right trolls are out in force again, smashing that “thumbs down” button multiple times with their pudgy little liver-spotted hands 😂

(19)(15)

🌍 🤝 🇬🇧

Yup.

Deleting those cookies like there’s no tomorrow….

FAKE UPVOTES!

Anonymous

Don’t know the full details and have based this solely on the article, but this seems a bit harsh. Fessed up on the expenses and hammered with £2.5k.

Perhaps it would help to know more about their expenses generally – I.e. were they putting through regular expenses in the hundreds and a mix up was straightforward, or were expenses rare and easy to distinguish?

(16)(0)

Anonymous

Sounds like Fladgate is a happy place to work at…

(20)(0)

Anonymous

Fladgates is a terrible place to work at. Unless your a senior equity partner.

(11)(1)

EFP

You’re for the sticklers.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

Clearly an ex Fladgate partner would know that it isn’t ‘Fladgates’.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This is a minor billing error at most. Having worked in-house, I know that they are very common and are easy to fix. Who reported this guy to the SRA for a clerical error?

(25)(1)

Under the Fladgate bus

I worked with Abel at Fladgate and he was a really lovely guy and a pretty decent lawyer. It’s very sad to see his name dragged through the mud like this (if this is the entire story of course).

Some of these comments disgust me and make me ashamed to be a part of the same profession as some of you.

This is such an easy mistake to make and he should in no way have been reprimanded like this. The firm should have taken him to one side and asked him if it was an honest mistake before involving the SRA. What an absolute joke.

As for him “now being an immigration lawyer” – that’s what he was doing at Fladgate!

(40)(0)

Andon

@Under the Fladgate bus: Jul 17 2019 5:39pm

It’s good to see that personal loyalty isn’t quite dead in the profession. Good on you for standing up and being counted.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

It strikes me that there is a risk that the Sra act as a second serve – in tennis terms – for any bullying strategy that the true members of the profession care to implement.

If you think about it, there is a risk that the sra actually serve equity partners. If you factor that suggestion in, a lot of their angles make sense.

Tenants rights are thin. Tenants are easily replaced. Landlords have many rights, and are here to stay, if you catch my drift. Amen.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Of course, law firms are business and employers (partners) have a lot of power over the employees (associates). If you do not like it you have free options: 1) create your own business (firm); 2) become an equity partner; 3) overthrow capitalism.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

*three options. Also need the Corbyn bot to leave a comment here.

(1)(0)

Laurence

Though it would seem that equity partners are equal partners, the reality in many firms is that they have little more power than any other ’employee’. Especially in firms where there is a there is a huge pay spread among equity partners, most power and money tends to accumulate into the hands of a very few at the top.
One firm comes to mind where the lowest earning equity partners are making 1/20th of what the highest paid partners are making.

(6)(0)

Hansal

SRA has time for such cases that may be honest mistakes. But no time to hear cases against rogue solicitors even when overwhelming evidence is supplied. If someone at SRA is interested in taking my complaint up, get in touch.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

This would fit the sra is for the equity partner analysis.

(1)(1)

Anon

SDT completely out of control – disgrace.

(4)(0)

Anon

I see the comment removing mods are out in force again #rolleyes

I posted a message saying something about how all the self-pitying alt right trolls were out in force busily repeatedly smashing the “thumbs down” button but some bell end has deleted it and has kindly reminded me of the reason why I have stopped visiting this site.

(2)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

And yet, you’re still here.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

So the tribunal accepted that the duplicate claims weren’t deliberate i.e. a mistake yet still disciplined him. Are solicitors not allowed the make mistakes now?? Absolute joke.

(7)(0)

Anonymous

This says so much more about Fladgate than it does this poor chap.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

“Although it accepted that the duplicate claims weren’t deliberate, the tribunal said that it was an error “that no solicitor of his experience should have made”.

SERIOUS WTF

(6)(0)

Good riddance Fladgate

I’m pretty sure he was an associate at the time of the mistake, not an “assistant solicitor”.

When I worked at Fladgate, I saw partners in his department, with significantly more experience than him, make plenty of mistakes significantly worse than this. I certainly haven’t heard of any of them being hauled before the SRA and publicly chastised like this!

I’m sure this treatment of staff is doing wonders for the firm’s recruitment.

(9)(0)

Laurence

I agree. This all sounds very suspicious. Did Fladgate spot the error and report him to the SRA? If so, why? Had he raised complaints, or whistle blown? This is extremely strange. Perhaps it’s time to investigate Fladgate’s own internal structure and management a bit more closely?

(6)(0)

Anonymous

No point In talking the talk about mental health and then doing this to someone who was vulnerable. A disgrace. Whoever pressed the button onthese proceedings has a special place in hell waiting for them.

(10)(0)

Anonymous

No point In talking the talk about mental health and then doing this to someone who was vulnerable. A disgrace. Whoever pressed the button on these proceedings has a special place in hell waiting for them.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Shouldn’t the accounts department have controls in place to stop this, or at least apply some due diligence?

Unsure why they haven’t been mentioned. Or is it just a no-holds barred frenzy of which deliveroo order they expense to a client per week?

(3)(0)

Comments are closed.

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