A former probate manager has been banned from the profession after wrongly accepting a £20,000 gift from a 92-year-old client.
A decision notice from the SRA stated that Ben Moore, an employee with Yorkshire firm Ramsdens, had been instructed by the client in 2016 to draft a will and subsequently on three further matters.
Almost two years later, this client gave Moore a cheque for £20,000, which he accepted without informing the firm, in breach of its anti-bribery and corruption policy.
In 2019, West Yorkshire investigated allegations of financial abuse by third parties against the client: Moore told the police about the gift although he was not a suspect in the investigation and faced no charges in respect of it. But the police did report the matter to the SRA, who investigated and informed the firm. A disciplinary panel of Ramsdens concluded that Moore’s actions constituted serious misconduct and his employment was terminated.
Moore admitted accepting the gift and that he had not told the firm or considered it necessary to advise the client to seek independent legal advice.
He told SRA investigators that he considered himself to be a friend of the client, having assisted him on many personal matters, and the gift was given in this capacity. Moore said he initially refused to accept the money but did so on the man’s insistence.
Moore who had been with the firm since 2013, was issued with a section 43 order preventing him from working for any regulated law firm without first seeking permission from the SRA. He must also pay £300 costs.