North-east firm Raleys Solicitors is appealing two Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) decisions relating to the firm’s role in handling compensation claims from sick coalminers.
In February the firm’s then senior partner Derek Firth was banned from practising law for four years while equity partner David Barber was suspended for two years and partner Jonathan Markham was handed a six-month suspension. Partners Carol Gill, James Gladman, and Katherine Richards were each handed a £10,000 fine for their conduct.
All six were found guilty of misconduct in relation to their relationship with Arthur Scargill’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). The union provided the firm with 29,000 clients seeking damages from the miners’ compensation scheme and in return the firm deducted money from clients’ damages payments to give to the NUM (17 February 2009).
While the firm does not dispute the findings of misconduct, it is appealing the decision that the firm should reimburse 30 clients for the sums paid to the NUM.
Gill, who is now managing partner at the firm, said: “The first [appeal] concerns the decision to uphold monetary awards in favour of 30 clients who agreed to have money deducted from government compensation and paid to the NUM but who were considered not to have been advised adequately in respect of those agreements.
“A key argument will be that neither the firm nor any of its people received this money, and that the awards to reimburse deductions, which came about after a change of policy by the Law Society, are not justified in law.
“Clearly the awards in these 30 cases might have implications for other cases now in the complaints procedure pipeline, about which positive discussions between Raleys and the Law Society are continuing.”
Gill added that the firm is also appealing the SDT’s decision on costs.