Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 18/07/95

RICHARD WILLIAM HILL, admitted 1979, practising at material time as Hill and Co, Tooting, London, fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £607.73 costs. Allegations substantiated he wrongly used client funds for purposes of himself and other clients, wrongly withdrew money from client account. Tribunal told investigation accountant's report of April 1994 revealed numerous bookkeeping errors and that on 31 January, 1994, it showed a shortfall of £18,112 comprising a personal payment from client account and debit balances arising from over payments on client account totalling £14,312. An earlier shortfall in clients' funds of £52,490 had been replaced prior to inspection. In his submissions to Tribunal Hill stressed there was no question of dishonesty and that no client had lost money. Tribunal said it accepted that no client had lost money and that as soon as problems with accounts were drawn to Hill's attention he put them right. It considered he had done all he could to remedy the situation and what happened had caused him considerable inconvenience and expense.

MICHAEL MORRIS GERALD SLOT, admitted 1963, and BARRY OWEN JOHNSON, admitted 1972, practising at material time in partnership as The Barry Johnson Partnership, Bexhill, East Sussex, reprimanded and ordered to pay £922.16 costs to be shared equally. Allegations substantiated they wrongly drew and used client money for own purposes, failed to pay money into client account without delay, failed to keep properly written accounts. Tribunal told investigation accountant's report revealed £4,151 shortfall on client account but dishonesty was not alleged. Respondents said problem stemmed from premature computerisation following practice merger. Tribunal appreciated difficulties in amalgamating incompatible accounting systems and attempting to computerise prematurely and was prepared to be lenient.

JOHN DUDLEY STUART JONES, 45, admitted 1978, practised with Longueville Gittins, Oswestry, Shropshire, suspended indefinitely and ordered to pay £1,110 costs. Allegations substantiated he misled clients as to conduct of their affairs, acted where there was conflict of interest between two clients, failed to carry out client instructions with due diligence and exercise reasonable care and skill, failed to keep clients properly informed concerning their affairs. Tribunal told Jones retired from Longueville Gittins in December 1991, two months after firm contacted Solicitors Complaints Bureau to report he had misled a client. Medical evidence said to show he had past history of attempted suicide and depressive illness. Tribunal accepted he was mentally ill at time of matters complained of and that he appeared to have alcohol problem.