Misconduct and Dishonesty
Misconduct and dishonesty are fundamental concepts in the regulation of all professionals and will usually result in a some form of regulatory sanction being imposed upon that professional. The exact nature of the sanction will be determined by the severity of the misconduct or dishonesty.
Misconduct is a widely drawn concept, and can arise from a number of different circumstances and may even arise from conduct which could, in the normal sense, be regarded as neither wrong nor dishonest.
Dishonesty, on the other hand, is regarded as an extremely serious matter and will almost certainly result in a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and will, if it is proven, almost invariably result in a striking off.
Sir Thomas Bingham MR, in Bolton v Law Society  1 WLR 512 at 518A-519B, said:
“It is required of lawyers practising in this country that they should discharge their professional duties with integrity, probity and complete trustworthiness.
“Any solicitor who is shown to have discharged his professional duties with anything less than complete integrity, probity and trustworthiness must expect severe sanctions to be imposed upon him by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Lapses from the required high standard may, of course, take different forms and be of varying degrees. The most serious involves proven dishonesty. In such cases the tribunal has almost invariably, no matter how strong the mitigation advanced for the solicitor, ordered that he be struck off the Roll of Solicitors. If a solicitor is not shown to have acted dishonestly, but is shown to have fallen below the required standards of integrity, probity and trustworthiness, his lapse is less serious but it remains very serious indeed in a member of a profession whose reputation depends upon trust. A striking off order will not necessarily follow in such a case, but it may well. Only in a very unusual and venial case of this kind would the tribunal be likely to regard as appropriate any order less severe than one of suspension.”
If you, or one of your partners, directors or employeees, have been accused or misconduct or dishonesty, or you believe that actions or omissions by you or they could lead to accusations of misconduct or dishonesty, then it is vital that you seek out and obtain advice on how to deal with these issues as a matter of urgency.
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