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Ex-Mishcon partner hit with £17,500 SRA fine over conduct breach

A former Mishcon de Reya partner has accepted a £17,500 penalty for his conduct which contributed to the record £232,500 SRA settlement agreed with the firm in January.

In an agreement published yesterday (7 March), Michael Nouril admitted to serious breaches of money laundering regulations relating to work for two individual clients, and corporate vehicles connected with the same two individual clients. In addition to the settlement, he will also pay  £3,500 in costs.

The breaches admitted to by Nouril include a failure to obtain a full set of due diligence documents as well as permitting transactions in and out of the firm’s client account that did not relate to an underlying legal transaction.

As with the penalty accepted by Mishcon earlier this year, this fine was calculated based on the fining powers of the SRA for alternative business structures, which far outreach their powers to impose financial penalties on traditional law firms. If Mishcon was not an ABS, the SRA’s fine would have been capped at £2,000 with referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal needed for penalties exceeding that amount. This is despite SRA’s attempts to increase the limits, including its renewed plea in a consultation launched in November 2021 which proposed an increase of the maximum fine it can issue solicitors and law firms to £25,000.

It could have been worse for Nouril, as the final fine was reduced by 30% from £25,000. The discount was made on account of mitigating factors, including his cooperation with the SRA investigation and a commitment to reduce the risk of repetition of similar issues.

The corporate lawyer, who has not been practising since he left Mishcon in April 2020, has since undertaken comprehensive training with respect to anti-money laundering and the SRA Accounts Rules.

For Mishcon, the continuation of this matter comes amid preparation for its IPO, which included the appointment of five new directors to serve on its plc board last month.