Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 04/04/95

NIGEL LAWRENCE DUCKWORTH, who worked as litigation clerk with Hutchinson & Buchanan of Ripon, North Yorkshire, from July 1988 to June 1991, banned from working for any further solicitors without written consent from Law Society and ordered to pay u1,189 costs. Tribunal told that in November 1993 he appeared at Bradford Crown Court where he was jailed for six months for acting as a solicitor when unqualified and obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception. Prior to his employment with Hutchinson & Buchanan he had also been fined u350 after conviction at Liverpool Crown Court of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and acting as a solicitor when unqualified.

WILFRED WALTER COWLISHAW, 64, admitted 1963, practised in partnership as Bemrose & Ling, of Derby, but ceased to practise in June 1992, struck off and ordered to pay u1,424 costs. Allegations substantiated he had been convicted of conspiracy to obtain property by deception and given a six-month suspended jail sentence. Tribunal told convictions followed "classic mortgage fraud". False representations had been made to building societies in that false references had been submitted, and prospective borrowers had assumed false identities. Cowlishaw was said to have been "drawn into a web of deceit by a long-standing client" and his only advantage was said to have been the conveyancing fees paid to his firm. In his submissions to the tribunal he said he had never had any deliberate criminal intention but had been "green, gullible and trusting". Tribunal said the case was a "sad" one and Cowlishaw had been a "hard working, conscientious and well respected solicitor" for a long time. They recognised it was all too easy for a solicitor to be swept along by what appeared at the time to be commercial expediency but they could not condone the implication of a solicitor in any fraudulent activity.

TIMOTHY VOLLANS, admitted 1979, partner at material time with JH Milner & Son, Leeds, suspended indefinitely and ordered to pay costs. Allegations substantiated he wrongly drew, misappropriated and used for his own purposes client and controlled trust funds. Tribunal told Law Society investigation revealed client account shortfall of u33,500 and controlled trust fund shortfall of u27,000. These had arisen as a result of misuse of the money by Vollans, who has since ceased to practise. The puzzling aspect of the case said to be the lack of explanation as to where money had gone. Vollans, who has undergone psychiatric care since 1992, submitted to tribunal that no one knew what had happened to the money and that because of his medical condition he did not know or could not recall whether he carried out misappropriation or not. Tribunal said it was a case in which there had been a serious breach of trust involving substantial misappropriation, but because of Vollans' medical condition there were grave doubts as to whether he could be held responsible for his actions.