US law firm Locke Lord has received the largest fine ever levied by the profession's regulatory body, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The firm has to pay £500,000 after accepting four allegations of misconduct, including acting with a lack of integrity, the first time a law firm has admitted to this. The case involved failure to supervise a lawyer from involvement in transactions which showed signs of irregular financial arrangements or investment schemes. Locke Lord admitted lacking effective systems and controls to identify possible conflicts of interest and issues around using the client account.
The firm co-operated up front with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and avoided a full hearing. A spokesperson for Locke Lord said: 'The matters investigated by the SRA concern the actions of Jonathan Denton and relate only to clients for whom he worked. None of the firm’s other clients were affected by Denton’s actions. We regret what has happened, but we are pleased to note that the SRA accepted our position that the firm and its senior officers did not act dishonestly or with conscious impropriety, or turn a blind eye to Denton’s conduct.' Mr Denton has been referred to the SDT.