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Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal

1 June 01

Reports relating to Bruce Louden Clark Gordon; Bernard Hill

Bruce Louden Clark Gordon

A Complaint dated 6th November 2000 was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Bruce Louden Clark Gordon, Solicitor, 36 Piersfield Terrace, Portobello Road, Edinburgh (the Respondent).

The Tribunal found the Respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to respond to communications in which he had a duty to reply, his breaches of Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts Rules 1996 and 1997, his failure to attend to the interests of clients, his misleading an institutional client and the Law Society and embezzling the sum £55,000.

In respect of the foregoing, the Tribunal ordered that the name of the Respondent Bruce Clark Gordon be struck off the Roll of the Solicitors in Scotland.

The Respondent acknowledged the catalogue of matters and did not seek to exculpate himself in any way. However, he explained to the Tribunal that the income from his business had been insufficient to support him and, in retrospect, he acknowledged that he ought to have wound up his practice earlier.

The Tribunal would in any event have taken a serious view of the Respondent’s neglect of his responsibilities and particularly his extensive failure to comply with the Accounts Rules. However, even these matters were overshadowed by the Respondent’s misappropriation of client monies.The Tribunal regarded such conduct as wholly unbecoming of a solicitor and had no alternative but to order that the name of the Respondent be struck off the Roll.

Bernard Hill

A Complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Bernard Hill, Solicitor, 16 Hazelwood Avenue, Newton Mearns, Glasgow (the Respondent).

The Tribunal found the Respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to reply to correspondence and other communications from the Law Society of Scotland; and in respect of this conduct, the Tribunal ordered that the name of the Respondent Bernard Hill be struck off the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland.

In terms of Section 1 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980, the Law Society has a statutory duty to have regard to the interests of the public in relation to the profession of solicitors in Scotland and in fulfilling that duty, the Law Society was entitled to make enquiries of the Respondent. Notwithstanding that the Respondent had been required to cease practice, he still had a professional duty to deliver his clients’ files and papers or at least retain them for safe keeping; and although the Respondent wrote to the Law Society on a number of occasions, he persistently failed to direct his attention to the reasonable requests made by the Law Society. The Law Society was accordingly unable to deal with the particular letters of complaint which they had received.

The Tribunal noted a previous Finding of professional misconduct against the Respondent in 1995 when he was censured and fined in the sum of £2,000 in respect of a failure to comply with the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts Rules. In the Note accompanying that Decision, it was recorded that “with some prompting, the Respondent acknowledged that he had to change his practices and tighten up his procedures.” Regrettably the events recorded in relation to the recent matters indicated that the Respondent had no regard for the Law Society or its duty to investigate complaints, and the Respondent’s persistent use of intemperate language towards the Law Society and its Secretariat demonstrated the utter disregard and contempt with which he regarded the Law Society.

The Respondent was already suspended administratively and it would have been competent for the Tribunal merely to pronounce an order which might run concurrently with the present restriction; but the Tribunal came to the conclusion that the Respondent had demonstrated his disrespect for authority to such an extent that he is not fit to remain a solicitor and accordingly an Order was made striking his name from the Roll.