The Optima-Capita deal: how the SRA arrived at its ‘severe reprimand’

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  • Quote...; "Optima may have breached the rules, but it has gained the experience of working with a non-legal entity, and this will put it in a good position when the act comes into force".
    All the more reason why the SRA should have really gone to town and thrown the book at them!
    They are laughing behind their hands now at the toothlessness of the professions governing body!
    OK, the public "severe reprimand" meted out to Robinson and Ruane is not something that a Lawyer would want on their personal record and will be immensely professionally embarrasing for them both but in my view they should have gone further and looked at the possibility of striking them off.
    I'm being too harsh? Not really. The SRA found that they had both been guilty of misconduct and the settlement agreement expressly provides that they are barred from denying their misconduct. They've openly flouted the rules, gained an unfair advantage over the competition and received a massive leg up into the top 100. Do we really think they'd be so far advanced without the Capita millions at their disposal even accounting for the fact that when they started out their client base was inherited from DLA Piper?
    Also, how come Robinson and Ruane have not done the decent thing and resigned? They have both, in admitting to their misconduct brought the reputation of the Legal Profession into disrepute as well as the firm itself! I happen to know that under the firms disciplinary policy this is defined as gross misconduct.... They would be quick to jump on any of their employees if they brought the firm into disrepute (although, knowing what I know about what has gone on there in the past, this may not be universally applied to all staff) - wonder if they'll be upholding the moral standards of the profession and setting an example to the staff they lead by invoking the firms disciplinary procedure against themselves? How can they now have any moral authority over those they are responsible for leading?
    The odds are that they wont and it'll be more of the "do as we say, not as we do" or "the rules do not apply to us" mentality.

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  • I agree, these people deserve to be struck off. It's not just for the purpose of holding them up as an example to the rest of the profession either.
    Analyse the report of the SRA. Messrs Robinson and Ruane agreed to reporting obligations to Capita and the imposition of debentures which actually put at risk the confidentiality of their clients. This core duty - to not put at risk ones clients confidentiality was offered as a hostage to fortune! Utterly disgraceful... at the very least you have to ask yourself whether solicitors who could behave so recklessly are truly suitable to be responsible for the management of a solicitors practice.
    Then you have the admission that Capita held a gun to Robinson and Ruanes heads and ordered them to purchase business "Y". I'm not entirely sure who this is but believe that it could be Costs Advocates Limited who came under the control of Robinson and Ruane and therefore Optima Legal Services in the recent past. I also believe that Costs Advocates Ltd were previously owned or afilliated to Capita in their own right before Robinson and Ruane came on board.
    It's clear that Capita called the shots and I have to agree with the poster above who expressed a belief that the SRA should have come down on the guilty parties so much harder.
    Maybe next time.

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  • I think that the above post is correct re Cost Advocates Ltd. Robinson and Ruane were appointed as Directors at the beginning of 2010 and are still listed as such today. Interesting that the main person behind the firm seems to be a DDJ.
    It's also true that Cost Advocates Ltd were previously in a funding and fee sharing arrangement with Capita since at least Autumn 2006 as evidenced by this link here - scroll down to the bottom entry - the bio for Mr Pell for proof.
    For more evidence of the enduring link between Capita and Cost Advocates all you need to do is an advanced google search on the phrase "cost advocates" and include the word "capita". The results include the linkedin profile of somebody who worked there between 2006-2008 who testifies to the relationship.
    I wonder if the SRA have looked into the relationship between Cost Advocates and Capita as it looks like the same arrangement may have been in place for as long or longer than the one with Optima albeit a little less high profile. Also, given the timing of Robinson and Ruane taking over Cost Advocates and the lack of publicity over it at the time in contrast to the announcements to the press which accompanied the McKeags and Turner Mac acquisitions, one wonders what the motivation was behind the transfer....
    Things that make you go hmmm?

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  • http://www.thelawyer.com/optima-brands-law-firm-model-‘unsustainable’/136456.article

    Who is laughing now!

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