Ombudsman to take no action over Howells case

THE Legal Services Ombudsman, Michael Barnes, has decided to take no further action over the complaint which led to the resignation of Michael Howells as Law Society treasurer.

Howells resigned from the treasury post in July after the Solicitors Complaints Bureau issued him with a “severe rebuke” for professional misconduct and ordered him to pay a client £1,000 compensation.

Although he had initially argued he should remain in office as treasurer, Howells resigned when a copy of an independent solicitor's report into the case, which had been commissioned by the SCB, was leaked to The Lawyer.

Barnes intervened in the case after the client, who believed the case should have been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, complained to him about the SCB's handling of the case.

His report into the case concluded that “the combination of financial redress and disciplinary sanction which was imposed represented an adequate response to the issues raised”.

Barnes concluded: “I do not, therefore, consider it would be appropriate for either the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors, which replaced the SCB, or myself to take further action.”

Howells said he was “relieved the whole process is over”. An OSS spokeswoman said it welcomed the ombudsman's findings.