Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
Report relating to Walter Forbes Ruark
Walter Forbes Ruark
A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Walter Forbes Ruark, solicitor, Carnoustie. The tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of (1) his failure to maintain accurate and adequate records to show his dealings with client monies and to identify the funds of each individual client, and his failure to obtain authority for payment of client funds to the benefit of other clients; (2) his use of clients’ funds for the benefit of other clients without appropriate authority and his falsifying of records to hide these misappropriations; (3) his having a deficit on his client account; (4) his failure to account for the funds to an executry; (5) his repeated delay and/or failure to register or record timeously dispositions, standard securities and discharges whereby the lenders remained unsecured for the funds advanced and clients remained uninfeft; (6) his failure to comply with the terms of the Money Laundering Regulations; (7) his use of funds entrusted to him by lenders and his failure to discharge existing securities for properties re-mortgaged, resulting in a loss to the lenders and a claim on the indemnity insurance; (8) his rendering fee notes for work which had not been undertaken; (9) his failure to obtemper a letter of obligation; (10) his failure to respond to correspondence from fellow solicitors and his knowingly misleading fellow solicitors; (11) his repeated and numerous failures to respond to the Society; and (12) his breach of rules 4, 6, 8 and 24 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts etc Rules 2001.
The tribunal ordered that the respondent’s name be struck off the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland.
The essential and absolute qualities of a solicitor are honesty, integrity and truthfulness. In this case the respondent misappropriated clients’ funds on a number of occasions and also falsified records to hide his dishonesty. He intromitted with loan funds in respect of a re-mortgage without redeeming an existing security, resulting in an indemnity insurance claim and a payment of £666,000. The respondent also showed a complete disregard for his obligations under 2001 Rules and for his duty to record dispositions, standard securities and discharges timeously. His conduct was persistent and spanned a long period of time. His dishonest acts taken to cover his behaviour, his lack of response to correspondence and the repeated nature of his conduct disclosed a lack of remorse. His actions presented a clear danger to the public and would inevitably tarnish the good reputation of the profession. The respondent wilfully and persistently had no regard whatsoever to the standards of integrity and respect expected to be demonstrated by a solicitor to his clients and fellow professionals. Due to this persistent and protracted conduct, the tribunal considered that the respondent was not a fit person to practise as a solicitor.