Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
Reports relating to Craig Richard Grimes; Michael Dryden Kerr and Martin Young Kerr
Craig Richard Grimes
A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Craig Richard Grimes, solicitor, Anthony Mahon Ltd, Glasgow. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his unconscionable delay for a 28-month period and ultimately his failure to raise a divorce action and repeatedly misleading his client as to progress of the action; his failure during a six-month period to reply to correspondence from a fellow solicitor in respect of that same client and during an eight month period to implement a mandate from that same client authorising him to pass her file and all related papers to her new solicitors.
The Tribunal censured the respondent and directed in terms of s 53(5) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980 that for a period of two years any practising certificate held or issued to him shall limit him to acting as a qualified assistant to such employer as may be approved by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland or its Practising Certificate Subcommittee. The Tribunal also ordained the respondent to pay £1,500 compensation to the secondary complainer.
The Tribunal was of the view that the respondent’s initial failure to progress instructions to raise a divorce action for three years was compounded by his misleading his client as to the progress of that matter and his subsequent failures to both deal appropriately with the mandate and then correspond with her new solicitor. The Tribunal was concerned that the respondent had not been honest with his client over a prolonged period of time while holding a senior position in the firm, and in view of this considered it necessary for the protection of the public to restrict his practising certificate. The Tribunal however noted that the respondent had shown a degree of insight into his failures by cooperating with the Society, offering an apology and offering compensation to his former client.
Michael Dryden Kerr and Martin Young Kerr
A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Martin Young Kerr and Michael Dryden Kerr, formerly of McClure & Partners, 199 St Vincent Street, Glasgow. The Tribunal found the respondents guilty of professional misconduct in cumulo in respect of their failure to comply with rules B6.3.1(a), B6.4.1, B6.7.1, B6.7.4 and B6.13 of the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011. The Tribunal suspended both respondents from practice for a period of five years.
The Accounts Rules are in place in order to provide protection to the public. Solicitors are in a privileged position of holding monies belonging to others. It is well accepted that the Tribunal will treat breaches of the Accounts Rules as a serious matter. The question here was whether the breaches proved here individually amounted to professional misconduct. The test to be satisfied is that the conduct represents a departure from the standards to be expected of a competent and reputable solicitor that would be regarded as serious and reprehensible. The evidence relating to the breaches of rules B6.3.1(a) and B6.4.2, which ran together, reflected a deliberate course of conduct by the respondents. Over a four-month period, money was removed from the client account, putting it into deficit, and then shortly before the month end, money was transferred back to put it back into surplus. This represented deliberate breaches of the rules, executed in such a way that suggested full knowledge on the part of the respondents. In these circumstances the appropriate disposal was one of suspension of both respondents from practice. Such a step was necessary to underline the importance of the protection of the public and to maintain public trust in the profession. The Tribunal concluded that the appropriate period for suspension was five years.