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Legal aid solicitor struck off for abuse of fund
A solicitor has been struck off the roll for a seven year course of conduct involving abuse of the legal aid fund.
Steven Anderson, who practised as Andersons in Springburn, Glasgow, was found guilty by the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal of professional misconduct in respect of his obtaining or attempting to obtain payment from the Scottish Legal Aid Board by persistent breaches of the legal aid regulations, code of conduct and relative guidance. He also failed to respond to correspondence from other solicitors, failed to implement a mandate, and failed to respond to correspondence from the Law Society of Scotland or to comply with statutory notices.
The Tribunal found that Anderson had engaged in "a longrunning, systematic abuse" of the legal aid fund, including inappropriate multiple grants of advice and assistance, charging or attempting to charge for work not actually or necessarily done, holding unnecessary meetings with clients to inflate fees, acting unprofessionally, granting advice and assistance where legal aid was already in existence, and submitting double accounts.
It was particularly concerned that the course of conduct had persisted for seven years; that professional misconduct was directed towards a fellow solicitor, his professional body and a public fund, and that some elements such as submitting accounts twice, overcharging for travel, and holding unnecessary meetings to inflate fees, disclosed a degree of dishonesty.
The Tribunal found that Anderson's conduct fell well below the standard to be expected of a competent and reputable solicitor and was serious and reprehensible such as to constitute professional misconduct. It concluded that he was not a fit person to be a solicitor and ordered that his name should be struck from the roll of solicitors.