News In Focus
Two more former Ross Harper partners struck off
Two more former Ross Harper partners have been struck off from the roll of solicitors by the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal.
Alan Miller, the firm's managing partner and cashroom manager, and James Price, for a time joint managing partner with Mr Miller, were struck off for professional misconduct comprising an ongoing course of dishonest conduct over a significant period of time, including significant overcharging of clients and operating a system under which money received from the Scottish Legal Aid Board to meet the fees of expert witnesses and others was not paid out but used to support the firm's cash flow, with book entries being made to conceal this practice. They also jointly signed accounting certificates that did not reflect the firm's true financial position and submitted them to the Law Society of Scotland.
Two other partners, Paul McHolland and Joseph Mullen, who acquiesced in the SLAB money practice but were not active participants in it, were both censured. The tribunal considered that as both had already been suspended and had suffered financially, the offences had occurred more than five years ago, and they were guilty of a failure in management rather than failures in duties towards clients, a censure would be sufficient.
The findings, published by the SSDT today, follow earlier strike-offs of Cameron Fyfe and Alan Susskind who were also partners at the firm (click here for report).
Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, commented: “It’s essential that people can continue to place their trust in the legal profession. As the professional body for all Scottish solicitors, we take our regulatory role very seriously and will intervene to protect clients when we suspect that any of our members has failed to meet the Society’s high professional standards.
“Concerns were raised about the firm’s accounting record following one of our routine financial compliance inspections. This led to us going to the Court of Session to request the appointment of a judicial factor to the firm in April 2012 and, following investigation, we prosecuted all six former partners before the independent Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal.”
Click here to view the tribunal's full decision.