Dodgy Solicitor of the Week: Handed SRA's biggest ever fine
27 March 2015
The newest card in the Dodgy Solicitors pack
has the distinction of recording the biggest fine ever levied by the Solicitors Disciplinary
In 2005 Nigel Harvie convinced a former client to sign her £300,000 house over to him
in exchange for payment of her care and living costs. Over the next 5 years the Oxford solicitor spent £200,000
on her soup and pills until the death in 2010. Two years later Harvie's nest egg was valued at £800,000.
Harvie was pulled up on his arrangement when neighbours complained to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that
he didn't appear to be honouring his ex-ex-client's will, which called for her estate to be used to
set up a trust fund to help foreign students. Harvie admitted not advising the woman to take independent advice, and that
he had acted in a manner contrary to his position as a solicitor. However he told the SDT that she was only his client for a very brief period in 2004 when he drew up her will, and that she was very happy with their subsequent deal.
The SDT said the public would be "appalled
" at his behaviour and fined him a record £305,000. The previous largest fine for on an individual was £40,000, and the largest ever was £50,000. Executive Director
for Legal and Enforcement David Middleton said Harvie had abused the trust the public
puts in solicitors and that the penalty "clearly reflects the
seriousness of this betrayal
". And the rise in house prices.