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Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal

18 May 09

Reports relating to Duncan Hugh Drummond; David Richard Blair Lyons; Shahid Sattar Pervez; David McLean Watt

Duncan Hugh Drummond and David Richard Blair Lyons

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Duncan Hugh Drummond, solicitor, of Messrs Lyons Laing & Co, Solicitors, 25 Newton Place, Glasgow (“the first respondent”) and David Richard Blair Lyons, solicitor of Messrs Lyons Laing & Co, Solicitors, 5 George Square, Greenock (“the second respondent”). The Tribunal found the first and second respondents guilty of professional misconduct in respect of their breach of rules 4, 6, 8, 11, 14 and 24 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts, Accounts Certificate, Professional Practice and Guarantee Fund Rules 2001, their failure to timeously stamp and record deeds, their failure to issue conflict of interest letters in the correct form and their persistent failure to respond to correspondence from the Law Society of Scotland.

The Tribunal censured the respondents and fined them in the sum of £10,000 each.

The Accounts Rules are in place in order to protect the public. Solicitors who fail to comply with the provisions of the Accounts Rules undermine public confidence in the profession. In this case the respondents breached a considerable number of the Accounts Rules at a number of different inspections. In addition to this there were delays in recording deeds, failure to issue conflict of interest letters and failure to respond to correspondence from the Society. The Tribunal accordingly considered that the respondents’ actings clearly amounted to professional misconduct and called into question the respondents’ ability to manage a legal firm properly. The Tribunal considered the individual responsibility of each respondent. It was noted that the second respondent was the cashroom partner and money laundering partner. It was also noted that the first respondent was located at the Glasgow office, some geographical distance from the Greenock office. However the first respondent indicated that he accepted joint responsibility and it was also clear from the evidence that the second respondent was off work due to ill health from time to time when the first respondent would have been the only partner in charge. The Tribunal also noted that at the October 2007 inspection a substantial number of the issues identified related to delay in recording deeds in respect of which the first respondent had responsibility. The Tribunal accordingly considered the first and second respondents equally culpable. The Tribunal was concerned that despite a number of inspections and interviews, there were still problems at the October 2007 inspection. The Tribunal was also not provided with any evidence to show that all matters had been sorted out to the Society’s satisfaction. The Tribunal however noted that the respondents had employed a new financial manager and had a new software system in place. The Tribunal also noted the difficulties caused by the indebtedness of a previous partner and the time this took to be resolved, and noted the references lodged. In the circumstances, the Tribunal stopped short of restricting the respondents’ practising certificates but imposed the maximum fine on each respondent to show the Tribunal’s severe disapproval of the repeated breaches of the Accounts Rules and delay in recording deeds.

David Richard Blair Lyons

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against David Richard Blair Lyons, solicitor, of Messrs Lyons Laing & Co, Solicitors, 5 George Square, Greenock (“the respondent”). The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to respond to correspondence from the Law Society of Scotland, and his failure to obtemper statutory notices issued by the Society. The Tribunal censured the respondent.

The Tribunal has made it clear on numerous occasions that failure to respond to the Society, hampers the Society in performing its statutory duty and can bring the profession into disrepute. The Tribunal noted the unusual circumstances in connection with the failure to respond in respect of one of the clients. The Tribunal noted that the respondent had a previous finding for inter alia failure to respond to the Society. The Tribunal however also took into account the fact that the respondent was being dealt with by the Tribunal in respect of two other complaints where he appeared with another respondent on the same date where he had been fined £10,000. The Tribunal accordingly did not consider it appropriate to impose an additional fine in respect of these matters.

Shahid Sattar Pervez

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Shahid Sattar Pervez, solicitor of the former firm of Belton Pervez, 430 Victoria Road, Glasgow. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to comply with instructions in the CML Lenders Handbook for Scotland and in particular his breach of conditions 10.3, 6.3.1 and 5.8 of said Handbook and his unreasonable delay between 18 October 2006 and 16 January 2007 in responding to the reasonable enquiries of the Society.

The Tribunal directed that an order be issued under s 53C of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980, censured the respondent and fined him in the sum of £1,000.

The Tribunal noted that unfortunately the respondent had not seen fit to lodge answers or attend the Tribunal hearing. The Tribunal however did not consider the respondent’s breaches of the CML Lenders Handbook to be particularly serious in this case. This however taken together with the respondent’s unreasonable delay in responding to the Society, which hampers the Society in the performance of their statutory duty and brings the profession into disrepute, resulted in the Tribunal imposing a fine of £1,000 in addition to a censure.

Shahid Sattar Pervez

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Shahid Sattar Pervez of the former firm of Belton Pervez, 430 Victoria Road, Glasgow (“the respondent”). The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his unreasonable delay in responding to the reasonable enquiries of the Society in relation to a complaint made against him. The Tribunal censured the respondent.

The Tribunal was satisfied that the respondent was aware of the complaint and the hearing. The respondent had not lodged answers or attended the hearing. However, the Tribunal also noted that the respondent had entered into a joint minute of admissions agreeing the complainer’s productions and a joint minute agreeing the facts, averments of duty and averments of professional misconduct. The Tribunal noted that the respondent was no longer on the Roll of Solicitors, his name having been removed in September 2006 due to a non-payment of his practising certificate fees. The Tribunal’s powers were accordingly restricted. The Tribunal imposed a censure.

Shahid Sattar Pervez

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Shahid Sattar Pervez of the former firm of Belton Pervez, 430 Victoria Road, Glasgow (“the respondent”). The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct singly and in cumulo in respect of his and his firm’s unreasonable delay in or failing to record standard securities in favour of their client, a lender; to provide that client with any or any relevant schedule of particulars; to advise the said client that the standard securities had been registered; to deliver relevant standard securities and/or title deeds to the said client; to provide the relevant company documentation in particular minutes or resolutions to protect their client’s interest; to advise the said client whether a proposed lease was to proceed or not; to communicate effectively with the said client; to update the said client on developments and to protect their interests; and in relation to the respondent’s unreasonable delay to respond to the reasonable enquiries of the Society. The Tribunal censured the respondent.

The Tribunal considered it was clear that the respondent’s conduct amounted to professional misconduct. The respondent did not record or register a number of standard securities in favour of the lender as soon as reasonably possible and did not make any attempt to explain the situation to the lender and ignored their correspondence. He also failed to communicate effectively with the bank and update them on developments and to protect their interest. The Tribunal was concerned about his lengthy and repeated sequence of failures. He also failed to respond to correspondence from the Society. The Tribunal took into account the fact that the respondent had recently been found guilty of professional misconduct for a similar failure. The Tribunal noted that the respondent’s name was no longer on the Roll of Solicitors and the Tribunal’s powers were accordingly unfortunately restricted. The Tribunal would have considered striking the respondent’s name from the Roll but in the circumstances, imposed a censure in this case.

David McLean Watt

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against David McLean Watt, solicitor, Ardrishaig, Argyll (“the respondent”). Following a decision in a procedural matter, the Tribunal dealt with the complaint on 20 April 2005, when the respondent was found guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his preparation of a codicil for his father in terms of which his father conferred upon him a significant financial benefit to the disadvantage of other members of his family, and his failure to notify his trustee in sequestration of the existence of the codicil and his beneficial entitlement thereunder. At this time the Tribunal censured the respondent, fined him £5,000 and imposed a restriction on his practising certificate for a period of 10 years. This interlocutor was appealed to the Court of Session, which confirmed certain parts of the interlocutor and remitted some matters back to the Tribunal. Before a freshly constituted Tribunal on 3 September 2008, the Society indicated that it did not wish to proceed with the allegation of professional misconduct in respect of the respondent’s failure to notify his trustee in sequestration of the existence of the codicil and his beneficial entitlement thereunder, or his attempts to mislead his trustee as to the full extent of his assets. The Tribunal then considered sentence in respect of the outstanding finding of professional misconduct in relation to the making of the codicil. The Tribunal censured the respondent.

In connection with the making of the codicil, the Tribunal considered that in normal circumstances this would be viewed very seriously. Solicitors have a duty not to take instructions to act in preparation of a codicil to a will if the codicil contains a significant benefit to that solicitor. The Tribunal however noted the very unusual history in this case. The Tribunal took account of the fact that the codicil was made in 1984 and was revoked only a few weeks later. The Tribunal also took account of the fact that since the previous interlocutor, the respondent had been working as an assistant and there had been no further issues which had come to the attention of the Society. The other peculiarity in the case was that the fiscal had asked the Tribunal only to censure the respondent. In the whole circumstances the Tribunal considered that a censure was a sufficient penalty.

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