Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 09/08/94

PETER JOHN GEORGE, 49, admitted 1971, practised on own account in Nottingham, suspended indefinitely and ordered to pay u1,861 costs. Allegations substantiated he breached undertakings to building societies and mortgage lenders in completing conveyancing transactions and forwarding title deeds, delayed or failed to deal with reasonable expedition with clients' affairs, failed to reply to correspondence from clients, building societies or mortgage lenders. Tribunal told that George wrote to Law Society saying he intended to take a "12-month sabbatical". It was submitted that whatever he might have intended by way of a sabbatical or otherwise, he effectively abandoned his practice. George told tribunal he had suffered ill health and had been prone to bouts of depression during which he did not function at his best. Tribunal, recognising there was no dishonesty, said it was sympathetic towards anyone suffering from a severe depressive illness, but it considered a period of suspension for an indefinite time was appropriate and that he could seek a determination when his depression was under control.

IAN HEDLEY MATT-HEWS, 44, admitted 1989, practised as assistant solicitor with Harrison Tankard and Mossmans and Firth and Firth, both of Bradford, struck off and ordered to pay u2,113 costs. Allegations substantiated he was responsible for unreasonable delay in conduct of professional business, behaved dishonourably towards former employers, was responsible for delay in submitting a bill and paper for taxation in a legal aid case, removed money without authority from office account of employers, failed to reply to Solicitors' Complaints Bureau correspondence, was guilty of excessive and unreasonable delay dealing with client affairs, deliberately misled a client as to conduct of client's affairs, practised without current practising certificate. Tribunal said he had shown an "extraordinary disregard for professional standards and an unwillingness to face up to responsibilities as a member of the solicitors' profession".

MALCOLM ROSS CALDWELL, 62, admitted 1957, practised on own account at Hornchurch, Essex, fined u2,500 and ordered to pay u1,000 costs. Allegations substantiated he practised without current practising certificate, failed to pay professional indemnity contributions, failed to deliver accountants' reports as required. Tribunal told case was both "simple and sad". Caldwell had described himself as being "in semi-retirement" and in fact only handled a very small number of files, but if he were to practise he had to comply in every respect with the rules. Tribunal said there was no provision for solicitor to undertake professional work unless it was properly controlled and regulated. There was no exception to this principle and all regulatory requirements had to be observed. Caldwell suspended for six months by tribunal in 1989.