Solicitor who 'broke any law that was convenient' struck off

The two partners of East London firm Freeses have been found guilty of misconduct. The charges included overcharging, improper transactions, failing to comply with solicitors' account rules, failing to pay counsels' fees and working without practising certificates.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found Jonathan Freese of Freeses Solicitors, 44 Artillery Lane, Stepney, guilty of 12 charges and struck him off the Solicitors Roll. He was ordered to pay three quarters of the costs, amounting to more than £25,000.

His partner in the firm, Frances Stewart, was found guilty of nine charges and was suspended from practising for three years. She was ordered to pay the remainder of costs.

Andrew Hopper of the Law Society said Stewart and Freese had “broken any law that was convenient” before the society closed the practice in December 1993.

“The clients' fund was raided for £150,000 to sustain the position. They caused over-charging to such an extent that it bore no resemblance to the actual costs,” Hopper said.

Improper transactions were discovered including £25,000 paid to the Chilcombe Golf & Country Club for building work . The two were substantial shareholders in the club.

Freese did not attend the hearing. In a letter, he said he had done more work than the files showed and that in relation to an investment fraud, he had been conned.

Stewart, who was present, told the tribunal some matters had occurred while she was abroad and added that she was neither aware of the state of Freese's files, nor would it have been appropriate for her to monitor them.