Small-town solicitor still practising despite five misconduct convictions

A WELSH solicitor is still being allowed to practise despite being found guilty of misconduct on five separate occasions.

The case of Tyrone Jude Francis has re-ignited calls for a tightening up of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). The Law Society believes it is too lenient in too many cases.

Francis faced disciplinary hearings in 1986, 1989, 1992, 1996 and 1997. On each occasion he was found guilty of conduct unbefitting a solicitor. He has been fined a total of £15,000 following accusations mainly relating to financial irregularities.

But Francis has never been struck off and is still practising from a one-man law firm, Jenkins Solicitors, in Pembrokeshire.

The last time he appeared before the tribunal, it noted its “dismay” at having to deal with Francis for a fifth time. The tribunal, in making its decision, reported: “It was extraordinary to think that the respondent should appear before them on so many occasions and yet still be permitted to continue in practice.”

Nevertheless, it still refused to strike off Francis. The tribunal said a criminal fraud trial which Francis had faced was a mitigating circumstance for his misconduct. Francis was found not guilty of eight counts of conspiracy to obtain property by deception at a mortgage fraud trial at Swansea Crown Court in 1995.

Law Society spokesman David McNeill, while refusing to comment on the specific case, says: “We have in the past been concerned with some decisions the SDT has come to. In some cases they have been frankly lenient.

“A solicitor regularly put before the SDT cannot be doing a good job and so it is a real concern.”