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A solicitor has been struck off for writing wills that left him and his family sizeable legacies.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found that Jonathan Leslie Horner, who was a partner at Brighton firm Sussex Law Ltd, had either failed to recommend independent advice or suggested advice was given by a paralegal at his firm in relation to nine clients between 2011 and 2016.
In a statement, the tribunal said Horner had “massively damaged the reputation of the profession by preying on vulnerable clients and abusing his position”.
It added: “Each individual was vulnerable. They had few or no surviving relatives. The respondent had befriended them, often paying visits out of office hours for no apparent or ostensible professional reason.”
The Legal Futures website reports that legacies included two clients whose capacity was in doubt – one whose previous solicitor said she was not in a fit state to provide instructions. In that case, the client left Mr Horner her entire estate.
The largest legacy involved amounted to £100,000, with most less than £20,000. Beneficiaries included the solicitor’s children and partner.
Commenting on the client who had left the solicitor £100,000, the tribunal said it was satisfied Horner’s conduct: “In light of his knowledge of the situation would be considered thoroughly dishonest by the standards of ordinary decent people.”
Horner was ordered to pay costs of £56,381.