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.