Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 28/10/97

Jonathan Arthur Freese, 47, admitted 1976, and Frances Moira Stewart, 42, admitted 1985, practising at material time in partnership as Freeses, London E1, respectively struck off and ordered to pay three-quarters of the costs, and suspended for three years and ordered to pay one quarter of the costs. Allegations substantiated that they wrongly drew money from client account, utilised clients money for their own purposes, obtained sums for costs which they knew or ought to have known they could not justify, failed to pay counsels fees when due, and failed to reply to correspondence. While the tribunal found that Freese had behaved in a manner which was at best reckless and at worst devious and dishonest, it expressed sympathy for Stewart. It accepted that as a former articled clerk it would have been difficult to monitor the work of her former principal, whom she believed to be a trustworthy solicitor. Although allegations had been substantiated against her, the tribunal took the view that they arose largely from force of circumstance and did not believe she had any dishonest intent. Her honesty, competence and integrity had been attested to in testimonial letters. She had lost her practice, her solicitor status and her home and been declared bankrupt.

Charles Henry Allchurch, 49, admitted 1971, practising at material times as Allchurch & Co, Tewkesbury, fined u7,500 and ordered to pay costs of u7,509. Allegations substantiated that he made improper use of client money, breached accounting rules, wrongly lodged client money in office account, and caused false entries to be made in accounts books. Fine of u5,000 imposed in respect of improper use of client money and further u2,500 in respect of other allegations. Tribunal refused to hold beyond all reasonable doubt that Allchurch had been dishonest in his handling of client money, but said his use of it had been improper. It found it extraordinary that a solicitor of his years and experience did not have a working knowledge of the professions accounting rules.