Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 25/03/97

Eric Ashley Bell, 47, admitted 1988, practising at material times with Graham and Bell Partnership and then as a sole practitioner as Eric A Bell & Co, Bedlington, fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs. Allegations substantiated that he delayed or alternatively failed to act with reasonable expedition in affairs of clients; failed or alternatively failed with reasonable expedition to answer letters from clients, other solicitors and the Solicitors Complaints Bureau; failed to deliver building society client title deeds in accordance with instructions of society; delayed or failed with reasonable expedition to apply for remuneration certificate; failed to give client adequate advance information in connection with costs of a conveyancing matter; failed to supervise employees adequately; and breached the solicitors' publicity code. The tribunal had sympathy for Bell and the circumstances he had found himself in. However, it said that there had been a lengthy catalogue of delays and failures to deal expeditiously with matters.

Michael Graham Steel, admitted 1977, practising at material time in partnership of Ewart Price and Primhak, Hampstead, fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £783 costs. Allegation substantiated that he failed to reply with reasonable expedition to correspondence from Solicitors Complaints Bureau.

Robert John Bradford Giles, admitted 1995, struck off December 1995, practising at material times as Hillearys, Fleet Street, made subject of order that Law Society award of £300 compensation against him to a dissatisfied client, should now be treated for purposes of enforcement as if contained in a High Court order. Giles also ordered to pay costs of £824. Tribunal dismayed that he had not complied with the order made in July 1995 that he pay client the money within 35 days.

Robert MacGregor Kilpatrick, 45, admitted 1983, practising at material times on own account as Kilpatrick & Co, Slough, Berkshire, fined £10,000. Allegations substantiated that he paid money other than that of clients into client account; wrongly drew money from client accounts; and dishonestly or alternatively improperly used client money for his own purposes. The tribunal said that Kilpatrick had chosen to ignore fundamental precepts of Solicitors Account Rules, namely that clients' money should be kept entirely separate from a solicitor's own money. He had displayed an extraordinary lack of judgement and had behaved foolishly when he did not take steps to open an alternative office account but had tried to create what was, in reality, an office account with the clients' account showing himself in the ledger as a client of the firm.