Right out of the dodgy solicitor playbook

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck off a solicitor for extracting money from a "vulnerable" 83-year-old former client.

Robert Steven Callen was a consultant solicitor at Penman Sedgwick in Watford, having been admitted in 1984.

The firm was instructed in a personal injury claim by an elderly woman (known as 'VHJ' in the judgment) after she was hurt in a road traffic accident and required day-to-day assistance. Callen was put in charge of the matter and the woman also appointed him as attorney, due to her poor health.

In 2017, Callen retired from Penman Sedgwick. The following year he visited VHJ at her home and told her, wrongfully, that she owed him £15,000 for the work he had done. He did not provide a written invoice or any details and the elderly woman refused to pay.

A few days later, Callen turned up at her home again, demanding payment. On this subsequent occasion, VHJ gave her chequebook to Callen who wrote out three cheques, which she signed.

Callen made the cheques payable to three people, known to him. Two of the cheques, which totalled £10k, were cashed overnight.

The woman later contacted Callen to ask for the money back. The former solicitor posted a cheque of £10k through her door, which she paid into her account.

At the hearing, Callen admitted the allegations against him and that he had been dishonest and lacked integrity.  

The tribunal slammed Callen for his "disgraceful behaviour capable of shattering the trust the public place in solicitors to protect their interests."

"This was misconduct of the most egregious kind in which he had obtained money, to which he was not entitled, from a woman vulnerable by reason of her age and infirmity." said the tribunal.

Callen was struck off the roll and the tribunal ordered that he pay over £2,500 in costs.

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A waste of talent 11 August 23 08:20

Just imagine what this lad could have achieved in life.

Had he not been a complete and utter moron.  

Anonymous 11 August 23 09:53

I do think that we might have been a bit hasty with that getting rid of hanging thing.

The original draftsmen of the European Convention On Human Rights didn't think that their document was incompatible with the death penalty, so is it really such a bad thing? Not doing it all the time, obviously, but on special occasions such as these?

Should we not at least give it another whirl, just to check?

Terrible behaviour, but 11 August 23 10:57

not to engage in whataboutery but speculating how something like this goes all the way to an SDT hearing while other 'allegations' are never pursued by the SRA?

Did VHJ ever get all the money back? This doesn't sound like a civil matter (IMHO). Was there a police investigation?

Of course the punishment seems fitting but how much time, effort and cost was spent on this old guy compared the egregious behaviours/allegations we hear about big firms? 


Anonymous 11 August 23 12:46

@8.32 - we all like people who haven't been found guilty of any wrongdoing whatsoever by the BSB!

Anonymous 11 August 23 14:49

Anonymous Anonymous 11 August 23 11:15 - agreed, but at least he is now out of the profession.

Anon 11 August 23 17:29

Anonymous Anonymous 11 August 23 11:15: yes. Hence the tribunal’s judgment:

‘The tribunal slammed Callen for his "disgraceful behaviour capable of shattering the trust the public place in solicitors to protect their interests."’


Anonymous 11 August 23 19:25

@17.29 - the public don't trust solicitors though, so his behaviour doesn't give the profession a bad name, only him.

anon 11 August 23 19:54

Anonymous 11 August 23 19:25 - the public do trust solicitors, which is why his behaviour gives the profession a bad name.

Anonymous 12 August 23 08:20

@19.54 - the public don't trust solicitors, but even if they did then his behaviour wouldn't give the profession a bad name, only him.

Grim 12 August 23 09:21

Callen was charged with professional misconduct and that charge was proved. As a matter of law, a finding of professional misconduct requires that your conduct brings the profession into disrepute. So Callen brought the profession into disrepute.

Anonymous 13 August 23 07:33

@09.21 - what name does a finding of professional misconduct require? Why is it always bad?

Anonymous 14 August 23 12:13

@9.29 - you should see some of the mad gibberish they're refusing to let us post.

This is the sanest tip of the iceberg.

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