Green Form's no windfall…
With reference to "Green Form business – easy pickings?" (The Lawyer 1 August), in 1993 the Solicitors Complaints Bureau's Special Investigation section launched an investigation into suspected fraud on the Green Form scheme and this resulted in interventions into three solicitors' firms which had been closely involved with Peter Lane's Clan Consultancy.
Intervention is not a measure taken lightly since it results in the closure and effective liquidation of a practice. However, in these cases, including Alan Pritchard & Co of Birmingham, the bureau had a duty to act in the interests of the profession as a whole. Alan Pritchard did challenge the bureau's intervention in the High Court and I am pleased to say the court rejected his appeal.
Let me make it clear that the statutory ground for these interventions under powers granted by the Solicitors Act 1974 was suspected dishonesty and not simply aggressive marketing of the Green Form scheme. The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating these three firms and as a result charges have been brought against one proprietor.
I am concerned that your article, taken at face value, may suggest to certain firms that it could represent an attractive business opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Messrs Pritchard etc. It does not.
Leamington Spa CV32 5AE.
…and Clan break rules
In your Green Form article reference is made to a deal between Clan and solicitors under which Clan was to be paid £40 per claimant introduced. The article quotes Mr Lane as saying Clan followed a sales programme based on a Law Society marketing circular.
I would like to make it clear to your readers that payment for the introduction of clients is prohibited by practice rule 3 of the Solicitors' Introduction and Referral Code 1990 and is likely to amount to a breach of practice rule 7 in that it would be a fee sharing arrangement between a solicitor and a non- lawyer.
I hope no one will be under any misapprehension that such payments are permitted under Law Society rules of conduct.
Head of Law Society Professional Ethics Division
Redditch B98 0TD.
Principle of Brent Spar
I was interested to read Mark Saunders' reflections (The Lawyer 8 August) on the legal background to the campaign by Greenpeace to stop Shell from dumping the Brent Spar oil platform in the Atlantic Ocean.
Readers may be interested to learn that the Scottish Association for Marine Science, the scientists with the greatest experience of deep-sea ecosystems in the proposed Brent Spar dumping area was never consulted by Shell or the Government about the plans. The scientists at SAMS agree with Greenpeace that the decision to dump was flawed on a number of grounds.
I am writing because I was surprised that Mark Saunders' analysis did not once mention the precautionary principle. In a case where possible contamination of the deep ocean could not be known – Shell had not completed an inventory and no one knows the deep-sea ecology of foreign material assimilation – then precaution requires any proposed disposer should prove no demonstrable harm before receiving permission to dump. This principle is an established EC principle, enshrined in many international conventions and treaties, and it was totally ignored.
The Best Practical Environmental Option regime, which also ignores the precautionary principle, is flawed in this regard. The public inherently understood the distinctions between Shell's assertions that "dumping is the best practical environmental option" and the standards of behaviour which ensure the seas are not used as an industrial dumping ground.
Campaign & legal director