Dundas launches investigation over ‘irregularities’ in partner’s pitch

Scotland-headquartered Dundas & Wilson has launched a probe into a sector head who obtained confidential information about a client that prejudiced a tender process.

Keith Armstrong, a projects partner at the firm’s Edinburgh headquarters, resigned after the firm established that there were “irregularities” in the pitch, understood to be for a public procurement project.

The firm has consulted the Law Society of Scotland and is conducting an internal investigation into the conduct of Armstrong, who took on the role of sole energy and infrastructure head following the resignation of infrastructure co-head Andrew Renton last year (5 October 2011).

Interim managing partner Caryn Penley said in a statement to The Lawyer: “It was brought to the attention of the board that there were irregularities in a tender process in which the firm recently participated. As soon as we ascertained this we immediately withdrew our tender to maintain the integrity of the process.

“Our initial investigations established that a partner had come into the possession of confidential information which may have prejudiced the tender process. The partner concerned has resigned from Dundas & Wilson, and is now on gardening leave.”

The statement continued: “Given the nature of the incident we consulted with the Law Society of Scotland. The circumstances of this are profoundly disappointing for all concerned. In the interests of everyone involved we have acted on this as quickly as possible. Once our investigations are finalised the matter will be referred to our board for further action and pending that it would not be appropriate to make further comment.”

Armstrong is understood to have instructed a solicitor and been prevented from using his firm email account or mobile phone. As of last Friday (15 June), the partner’s automated email response stated that he was “currently out of the office” and referred the recipient to a colleague.

The investigation is being carried out by the Dundas board, which includes Penley and chairman David Hardie. Penley is serving as interim managing partner while the firm selects a permanent replacement for Donald Shaw, who stood down earlier this year (8 March 2012). Hustings and a vote are scheduled for this Wednesday (14 June 2012).

Armstrong could not be reached for comment. The Scottish Legal Complaints Commission said it could not confirm or deny that it has received a complaint, while the Law Society of Scotland said it could not provide any information.