Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 16/12/97

Robert Edward Collard, 40, admitted 1984, practising at material time as Collards, Reading, suspended indefinitely and ordered to pay £2,218 costs. At the time of the hearing he was not practising as a solicitor. Allegations substantiated that he failed to deliver an accountant's report, failed to comply with a requirement of Solicitors Complaints Bureau (SCB), failed to pay counsel's fees as they became due and failed to reply to correspondence from the SCB. Tribunal noted that it appeared that his main fault had been that he had not carefully wound down his practice. No dishonesty had been alleged and it was clear that these events had taken place at a time when he had personal, financial and professional difficulties. The correct sanction would have been a fine but in view of his financial position such a sanction would have served no useful purpose. It would have rendered his correction of the outstanding and continuing breaches impossible.

Sam Holland, solicitor's clerk, employed at material time as a legal cashier with Hans Joseph Hartwig, London SW1, banned from working for any solicitor without permission from Law Society and ordered to pay £3,888 costs. Allegation substantiated that she had admitted responsibility for client account shortage of about £197,000. The tribunal recognised that she had suffered considerable difficulties in her personal life and had expressed contrition. It was not clear whether or not she would face criminal prosecution. The tribunal gave her credit for attending before it.

Richard Lionel Jones, 46, admitted 1986, and Richard Leslie Rees, 82, admitted 1940, practising at material time in partnership as Brinley Morris Rees & Jones of Llanelli, fined £4,000 and reprimanded, respectively. Allegations substantiated that they wrongly drew client money. Allegations also substantiated against Jones that he misappropriated client funds. Tribunal had considerable sympathy with Rees, who recognised his liability under the solicitors' accounts rules, although he was in no way culpable for the misappropriation of client funds. In the case of Jones, the tribunal accepted that he was motivated by a concern to obtain the best possible return for his clients on money he was holding on their behalf and had been hoodwinked by a fraudster. The tribunal accepted that Jones had not been dishonest and had not gained personally. It considered he should be given credit for putting matters right at his own expense and ensuring that no client suffered loss of capital or interest.