A SKIPTON solicitor has branded being 'struck off' the Roll of Solicitors following a disciplinary tribunal as 'absurdly harsh'.

Robert Foster, 65, of Foster Law, Broughton Hall, admitted being in breach of code of conduct rules after preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) for an elderly client in 2010, and which was back-dated to 2003.

But the former solicitor said his actions were to save an elderly lady money.

"This is absurdly harsh, a sentiment shared by all those who already know about this fate," he said following the tribunal.

"My 'crime' was to backdate, in year 2010, a Power of Attorney by using the format which had been current for many years prior to its replacement in 2007."

He added his actions were to 'save an elderly lady the expense - plus £130 registration fee - of the now current excruciatingly bureaucratic Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for which takes 18 pages to say that A appoints B as attorney with a certificate by C that A has the requisite mental capacity'.

At the hearing, Foster, admitted failing to inform his client that the EPA could not be legitimately registered with the Office of the Public Guardian and/or that it was invalid..

When a parter in his previous firm, Walker Foster, in Skipton, Foster, prepared a will for the elderly client in 2003.

In July 2009 he left the company and began trading with Foster Law in October the same year. In December Foster wrote to the client regarding providing an authority to transfer her will and other documents to his new firm.

A year later he was contacted stating the elderly client wanted to revise her will following the death of her brother. On November 1, 2010, the client and her friend, the proposed executor, met at Foster's office and the updated will was finalised and signed.

The tribunal heard EPAs were legislated for under the EPA Act of 1985. It was repealed by the Mental Capacity Act in 2005 and no EPA was to be created after October 1, 2007.

A new power called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) was introduced by the MCA in 2005.

It was explained that where an EPA has been dated with a date other than that on which it was executed, or it was executed after September 20, 2007, it will be defective and unable to be rectified.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority received a report from Walker Foster in April 2016, instructed on behalf of the client by her executor, regarding these matters.

Foster admitted his conduct had been dishonest. In his answer he stated his admission was made 'with profound regret and contrition'. He described his conduct as 'a one-off isolated incident and a singular departure from habitual adherence to strict standards of integrity and ethical propriety, which are paramount to me and the reputations of myself, my family, my firm, its clients and the regional community of people and businesses it serves, my colleagues, other stakeholders and the profession generally'.

Foster added his client's estate had not been worth a great deal and accepted 'entirely and wholeheartedly' his conduct was in breach of his regulatory obligations. He explained that in preparing the EPA, back-dating it and witnessing with signatures, which he also back-dated, he was being 'too kind' and 'too helpful'.

Foster's wife, Diane Foster, who is a partner in the Foster Law firm, gave evidence in mitigation. She said a large number of Mr Foster's clients would be distressed if they could not speak to him.

The tribunal, noting that Foster had 'formulated a plainly dishonest course of action' considered that the reputational damage that would be caused by allowing Foster to remain on the Roll far outweighed the circumstances advanced on his behalf.

It read: "Having determined that there were no exceptional circumstances, the tribunal found that the proportionate and appropriate sanction in this case was to strike the respondent from the Roll."

Foster was also ordered to pay a contribution to costs in the sum of £7,942.00.

In 2007, two years prior to leaving Walker Foster and setting up Foster Law, Foster admitted possessing an offensive weapon in a public place when he threatened to slash the tyres of a delivery vehicle with a knife in Jerry Croft.

He was given a 12 month community order and ordered to complete 40 hours' unpaid work.