29 JUL 2010
Mr Maurice Sheridan [ 0096628 ], Co Down, BT35
Wednesday 28 July 2010
RICS, Parliament Square, London, UK
Mary Symes (Lay)
Hugh Kemsley FRICS
The formal charge is:
You did not at all times act with integrity and avoid any actions or situations that were inconsistent with your professional obligations in that following an investigation by the DETI into your position as a director of SC Property Ltd. you were made the subject of a Company Directors Disqualification Undertaking for a period of 6 years from 04 November 2008
Contrary to Rule 3 of the Rules of Conduct for Members 2007
Findings of Fact
The Panel determined to proceed with the case in the absence of Mr Sheridan being satisfied that the provisions of Rule 23 of the Disciplinary, Registration and Appeal Rules 2009 had been complied with. In respect of the allegations of fact, the Panel found these proved in the light of Mr Sheridan’s admission.
The Panel in considering the matter of Penalty noted the submissions of Mrs Buckley on behalf of the RICS and took note of the written submissions of Mr Sheridan. The Panel noted that Mr Sheridan had entered into a disqualification undertaking effective from 4 November 2008 for a period of 6 years. The circumstance which led to this undertaking was the failure of SC Property Limited. The matters of unfitness listed in the undertaking included a breach of fiduciary duty, a failure to pay debts of £93,704.52 including VAT, PAYE, NIC and corporation tax, misuse of bank accounts and a failure to prepare and file annual returns.
The Panel decided that the appropriate penalty in this case is to expel Mr Sheridan from membership of the RICS.
In reaching this decision the Panel first considered whether a caution or reprimand would be appropriate. The Panel considered these matters were extremely serious. It was felt that such penalties were inappropriate and did not reflect the gravity of the charge admitted by Mr Sheridan.
The Panel went on to consider whether an undertaking or conditions on continuing membership would be appropriate. The Panel considered that neither an undertaking nor a condition could be formulated so as to be measureable, achievable or realistic. In reaching this decision the Panel had regard to the need to protect the public and the reputation of the surveying profession. An undertaking or condition would not achieve the necessary protection where the underlying issue as set out in this case was one of integrity.
The Panel also considered whether a fine would be a proportionate penalty in a case involving a breach of integrity where there had already been considerable adverse publicity. It did not consider that a fine was capable of restoring the reputation of the profession in the very serious circumstances of this case.
The Panel therefore considered that the appropriate and proportionate penalty in this case was to expel Mr Sheridan from membership of RICS. The Panel finds that Mr Sheridan’s behaviour was unacceptable from a member of RICS in that it demonstrated a complete disregard for the proper management of the finances of a company of which he was director. His acceptance that he breached his fiduciary duty as a director is a most serious matter. Such publicity as was occasioned by his actions brought the RICS into disrepute.
Whilst making this decision the Panel took note, to Mr Sheridan’s credit, of his co-operation with RICS and his previous good record. However his failings are fundamentally incompatible with remaining as a member of RICS.
The Panel determined that this decision should be published in line with the Sanctions policy but such publication should be deferred until any associated cases involving SC Property Limited have been determined or otherwise concluded by RICS.
The Panel order that Mr Sheridan pay the costs of the RICS in this case of £3,974.50.
Mr Sheridan has a right of appeal against this sanction as set out in the Disciplinary, Registration and Appeal Rules 2009.