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Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal

19 January 09

Reports relating to James Joseph McGinley and Anne-Marie McGinlay; Roderick Graham Mickel

James Joseph McGinley and Anne-Marie McGinley

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against James Joseph McGinley, solicitor, Unit 10, 355 Byres Road, Glasgow (“the first respondent”) and Anne-Marie McGinley, solicitor, Unit 10, 355 Byres Road, Glasgow (“the second respondent”). The Tribunal found the first respondent guilty of professional misconduct in cumulo in respect of his repeated failure to respond to correspondence from his fellow solicitors; his delay and at times failure to respond to the reasonable enquiries of the Society in the course of their investigation and to complaints made against him; his repeated failure to make timeous and in some cases any payment in respect of counsel’s fees instructed by him or through his firm and his failure to comply with the scheme of accounting for and recovery of counsel’s fees; and his failure to comply with statutory notices served by the Society and to deliver files as required of him. The Tribunal found the second respondent guilty of professional misconduct in cumulo in respect of her repeated failure to make timeous and in some cases any payment in respect of counsel’s fees instructed by her or through her firm and her failure to comply with the scheme of accounting for and recovery of counsel’s fees; her delay and at times failure to respond to the reasonable enquiries of the Society in relation to the investigation of complaints against her; and her failure to comply with statutory notices issued by the Society and to deliver files as required of her. The Tribunal also found that both respondents had failed to comply fully with the determination and direction given by the Council of the Society under s 42A of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 within the period specified and resolved to make an order under s 53C. The Tribunal censured the respondents.

The Tribunal noted that the respondents’ failures had arisen not in the course of running their practice but in the course of winding up their practice after they had accepted that they had overstretched themselves financially and administratively. The Tribunal also noted that the respondents acknowledged this fact and had contacted the Society for advice on the closure of their business as early as July 2005. The Tribunal took into account that the respondents had not adopted an irresponsible attitude to their business affairs and had made significant payments towards the monies outstanding to the Faculty of Advocates and to their former clients and were still working with the Society towards resolving all outstanding issues. The Tribunal also noted that both respondents were pursuing careers outwith the legal profession and had no desire to return to practice. For these reasons the Tribunal considered that fines would not be appropriate in the circumstances. The Tribunal considered a censure for both respondents to be sufficient.

Roderick Graham Mickel

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Roderick Graham Mickel, solicitor of Graham Mickel & Co, 38 James Square, Crieff, Perthshire (“the respondent”). The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his breach of rules 4, 8, 9, 12 and 14 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts etc Rules 2001.

The Tribunal censured the respondent and directed in terms of s 53(5) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 that the respondent’s practising certificate be subject to a condition that the books and records of the respondent’s practice be inspected by the Council of the Society no later that 31 December 2008, such inspection to be at the expense of the respondent.

The Tribunal was concerned about the number of breaches of the Accounts Rules and the fact that the respondent lodged accounts certificates with the Society which were incorrect. The Tribunal also noted that the respondent’s books were in a state of disarray for a period of three years. The respondent did not give the Tribunal any real explanation as to why this had happened. Although the Tribunal noted that matters appeared to have been sorted out to the satisfaction of the Society, no evidence was provided to the Tribunal with regard to systems which were now in place to ensure that there would be no repeat of this in the future. The Tribunal considered that it would be appropriate for the Society to carry out another inspection of the respondent’s books prior to 31 December 2008 to ensure that everything was in order. The Tribunal noted that the cashier work was presently being done by the respondent and his cashier who was not SOLAS trained. The Tribunal considered that to ensure protection of the public, a further inspection was required. The Tribunal accordingly censured the respondent and put a restriction on his practising certificate.

 

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