Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 07/02/95

CHRISTOPHER JOHN HOBSON, solicitors clerk for Austerfields, Bridlington, North Humberside, banned from working for any further solicitors without written consent from Law Society and ordered to pay u570 costs. Allegations substantiated he misappropriated and/or misapplied funds held or received by firm for and on behalf of clients. Tribunal told investigations completed by 8 September last year indicated Hobson had misappropriated u48,196. Further files still under investigation then indicated there was likely to be a further u17,184 missing. Most of the money had been taken from files of deceased estates for whom Hobson had been acting.

DAVID BENJAMIN MORRIS, 52, admitted 1965, practised as DB Morris & Co, London W1, fined u1,000 and ordered to pay u2,251 costs. Allegations substantiated he was guilty of delay in dealing with client affairs and in connection with administration of an estate and failed to comply with direction pursuant to section 37(A) and schedule 1(A) of Solicitors Act 1974. Tribunal said matter was one of some complexity and difficulty but they could not condone delays on part of solicitor and there were, in this case, delays admitted. Such delays served only to bring whole of profession into disrepute. However, they took into account that during the period giving rise to the complaints respondent had suffered death of his wife who had been his tax manager.

DAVID ALLAN GRAHAM, 51, admitted 1972, practised on own account at Rottingdean, Brighton, suspended for two years. Allegations substantiated he was guilty of unreasonable delay in conduct of professional business, failed to comply with Law Society direction, failed to reply to correspondence from Solicitors Complaints Bureau. It was submitted to tribunal that respondent had "taken concept of a mental block into a new dimension". Although he did not appear to be an incompetent solicitor and there was no hint of dishonesty, he had apparently found it impossible to deal

with problematical matters. It appeared that if something went wrong with a matter and it ceased to be straightforward he was not able to deal with the problem. He appeared to be an honest and competent solicitor who had permitted a problem file to become a disaster and who had found it

impossible to break a psychological barrier over it. Graham told tribunal he was a sole practitioner but had never wanted to be in practice on his own. He found sole practice subjected him to remorseless pressures with which he was unable to cope. He had put his head in the sand. Tribunal said Graham, who was fined u750 by them in 1992 and u3,000 by them in 1993 following similar complaints was not equipped to be sole practitioner. While the tribunal considered him to be an honest and decent solicitor he was not fit to practice on his own.