Probate practicioner to face tribunal after transferring £40,000 of client money into own account

A probate practitioner is to face the Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal on fifteen charges including breaking rules on client money, and transferring nearly £40,000 into his office account from clients despite a court stating he was only entitled to £7,922.46.

Michael John Elsdon’s West Sussex based ABS firm, Sai-Donne Limited, was closed by the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority in 2014 with the SRA puting subsequent restrictions on his employment.
According to the SRA, Mr Elsdon transferred the sum of £39,962.03 from his client account to his office account on 30 November 2012 in respect of the estate of Mrs L (the “Estate”) following an assessment by the court that he was only entitled to charge the Estate a total sum of £7,922.46.

The SRA say that he then failed to take any steps to repay the money despite confirmation from the High Court on 31 July 2013 and 15 November 2013 of the amount he was entitled to.

Other allegations include failing to pay interest on client monies, undertook work he had not been instructed to, withheld client monies for no legitimate reason, and preventing the Practices’ Accountants from reporting breaches to the SRA.

It is also alleged that he, following receipt of a complaint from a beneficiary regarding delay in payment of a legacy, entered into “unnecessary and obstructive correspondence with that beneficiary” leading to more delays in payment of a legacy when he originally had not anticipated any issue with payment.

The SRA say that between 23 December 2013 and 16 October 2014, “he sought to charge his client for work which he was not instructed to undertake and improperly sought to exercise a lien over his client’s documents in respect of those improper charges.”

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