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Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal

1 May 04

Reports relating to Kevin John Boyd; John Alistair Munro Armit; Valerie Elaine McKenzie Macadam; Carol Jennifer Neilson

Kevin John Boyd

A Complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Kevin John Boyd, Solicitor, Briggs & Company, 50 Cassillis Road, Maybole, Ayrshire (“the Respondent”). The Tribunal found the Respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to respond timeously, openly and accurately to the reasonable enquiries made of him by the Law Society. The Tribunal Censured the Respondent.

The Tribunal has made it clear that failure to respond timeously, openly and accurately to the reasonable enquiries of the Law Society amounts to professional misconduct. In this case however, the Tribunal took account of the fact that the case concerned failure to reply in respect of only one matter and that the Respondent had explained his difficulties. The Tribunal also noted that the Respondent had eventually provided the Law Society with the information which they required. The Tribunal accordingly considered that a Censure would be a sufficient penalty.

John Alistair Munro Armit

A Complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against John Alistair Munro Armit, Solicitor, 35 High Street, Paisley (“the Respondent”). The Tribunal found the Respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his unreasonable delay in responding to notices served on him by the Law Society and delay in production of his file and his unreasonable delay in complying with the direction of the Law Society in respect of payment of compensation for an inadequate professional service. The Tribunal Censured the Respondent.

The Tribunal were concerned by the Respondent’s excessive delay of 25 weeks in the production of his file to the Law Society. Failure on the part of a solicitor to co-operate with the Law Society in such matters seriously hampers the Law Society in the performance of their statutory duty. It also concerned the Tribunal that the Respondent took so long to implement the Determination and Direction of the Law Society. The Tribunal however noted that the Respondent had co-operated and entered into a joint minute. The Tribunal took account of the numerous references from senior members of the profession and also noted that the Respondent had foregone his fees and had to pay an architect’s fees.

In the circumstances the tribunal considered that this Censure would be a sufficient penalty.

Valerie Elaine McKenzie Macadam

A Complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Valerie Elaine McKenzie Macadam, Solicitor, 57 Comiston Road, Edinburgh (“the Respondent”). The Tribunal found the Respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of her breach of rules 11(3), 12, 13 and 15 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts Rules 1997, her breach of rules 4, 8 and 11 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts Etc Fund Rules 2001 and her delay in recording standard securities and discharges of standard securities and delay in presenting deeds for stamping. The Tribunal Censured the Respondent and Directed in terms of section 53(5) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980, that for a period of six years from 19 March 2004, any practising certificate held or issued to the Respondent should be subject to such restriction that would limit her to acting as a qualified assistant to such employer as may be approved by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland.

The Tribunal were concerned by the frequency and regularity of the breaches of the Accounts Rules and the fact that these continued despite inspection by the Law Society when the difficulties were drawn to the Respondent’s attention. It is imperative in order to maintain the reputation of the profession, that solicitors comply with the terms of the Accounts Rules. The Tribunal were also concerned by the delay in recording standard securities and discharges and in having deeds stamped. The Tribunal however took account of the fact that there were explanations for the delays in settling the conveyancing transactions and that all the transactions had now been settled successfully by the Respondent. The Respondent had made good any interest lost to her clients in respect of her failure to invest client money. It was also clear that the Respondent was taking steps to try and sort things out. The Respondent had also entered into a joint minute and had discussions with the Law Society Fiscal at an early stage.

It was clear that the Respondent could not be trusted with cash room management and the Tribunal accordingly imposed a restriction on her practising certificate in order to protect the public and prevent any further breaches of the Accounts Rules. To allow the Respondent to dispose of her practice, the Tribunal Ordered that the restriction run from 19 March 2004.

Carol Jennifer Nelson

A Complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Carol Jennifer Nelson, Solicitor, Wester Sunnyknowe, Rumblingbridge, Kinross (“the Respondent”).  The Tribunal found the Respondent not guilty of professional misconduct.

Despite the fact that the Respondent had entered into a joint minute admitting the averments of professional misconduct the Tribunal had to consider whether or not her actings amounted to professional misconduct in terms of the Sharp test.  The Law Society had made a Determination and Direction that the Respondent pay £250 by way of compensation in respect of an inadequate professional service provided to a client.  The Respondent had written to the Law Society advising them that arrangements had been made to send a cheque in payment of the compensation due but the payment had not been made.  The Respondent explained that she had intended to send the payment but had been unable to do so due to a lack of funds.  In the circumstances the Tribunal Found that the Respondent’s actions, although unprofessional, did not amount to professional misconduct.