Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 06/06/95

PETER ALLEN JOHN HENRY, 49, admitted 1973, practised as Henry & Company, Swindon, Wiltshire, struck off. Allegations substantiated he was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud. He was said to have certified authenticity of false documents and to have committed perjury in connection with the affairs of a client whose company had gone into liquidation and who was facing financial demands from the liquidator. In his submissions to the tribunal Henry said he committed the offences for which he was jailed in a "wholly mistaken" wish to help a client whose affairs he had become "totally obsessed with". He said that he had been a successful solicitor running a successful practice engaged in the property field and had enjoyed lucrative years. However, problems started when property prices crashed in the 1980s and interest rates went up. His practice took a serious financial downturn. In addition to financial pressure his marriage had ended and a former partner had also been engaged in criminal activity. The tribunal said solicitors had to exercise integrity, probity and complete trustworthiness at all times. The appropriate sanction for Henry, who had been convicted of criminal offences involving dishonesty during his ordinary course of practice as a solicitor, was to be struck off.

THOMAS STEPHEN COWELL, 54, admitted 1966, fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £11,383 costs and ROBERT JAMES MORRIS, 35, admitted 1984, reprimanded. Allegations substantiated that Cowell and Morris practising in partnership as TS Cowell, Deal, Kent, drew and used money from client accounts in breach of solicitors accounting rules and failed to keep properly written accounts. Tribunal was told that the report on their books by an investigating accountant from the Solicitors Complaints Bureau revealed cash shortage on client account of more than £152,984 at one stage. Money was said to have been wrongly loaned from client accounts without the consent of the clients concerned. Tribunal said the state of the respondents' book keeping and their handling of clients' money revealed "a deplorable state of affairs". The attitude the two had adopted towards compliance with Solicitors Accounts Rules had been a "wholly unacceptable cavalier approach". In imposing the penalties they took into account that Morris was much less experienced than Cowell.

LAWRENCE EDWARD CURTIS, banned from employment as solicitor's clerk without written consent from Law Society and ordered to pay £559 costs. Tribunal told Curtis was employed by Amhurst Brown Colombotti of London SW1 as accounting clerk. On 19 May 1992 he was jailed for 18 months, ordered to pay £10,000 compensation and £550 towards prosecution costs after pleading guilty at Southwark Crown Court to a total of 12 offences of procuring the execution of a valuable security by deception between 1987 and 1991. Offences involved falsification of solicitors' accounting records and transfer of total of £17,987 to himself.