Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 10/3/98

Graham Edward Westbury North, 45, admitted 1977, Michael Anthony Weston, 49, admitted 1972, and Emily Claire Assunta Rebecca Macaskie, 37, admitted 1988, practising at material time as Burton Yeates Westburys, London, WC2. North and Weston struck off and Macaskie suspended from practice for 12 months. £10,156 costs ordered to be paid (of which North to pay 70 per cent). The Law Society disposed of the practice to other firms. Allegations substantiated that North failed to keep proper accounts, drew money from client account, failed to pay client money into client account promptly, improperly transferred sums between clients' ledger accounts, utilised trust money and/or client money for own purposes and purposes of other clients, had been convicted of furnishing false information and had been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Tribunal said matters to which he had admitted were of gravest nature. Utilisation of money demonstrated a dishonesty which amounted to professional misconduct and criminal behaviour and that the damage caused to the profession was immeasurable. Allegations substantiated that Weston failed to keep properly written accounts, drew money from client account and failed to promptly pay client money into client account. Tribunal said he accepted allegations but was unaware of North's activities. He accepted responsibility for abstention from duty. Tribunal endorsed that but took view that as an equity partner he was well aware of parlous financial position of firm and his failure to shoulder responsibility for keeping of accounts and handling of client money was serious, undermining public confidence in solicitors. Despite no finding of dishonesty tribunal did not consider him fit to be a solicitor. Allegations substantiated that Macaskie failed to keep properly written up accounts, drew money from client account, failed promptly to pay client money into client account, improperly transferred sums between clients' ledger accounts and utilised trust money and/or client money for purposes of other clients. Tribunal said her position could be distinguished from that of Weston and North. She was a less experienced salaried partner, subject to supervision by the other two and not privy to the firm's financial state. Tribunal allowed for her poor health and work pressures. It was satisfied that her actions were not motivated by personal gain and had been rectified, but she had not been frank with the investigation accountant and had signed a false statement to the Law Society. Tribunal recommended that before granting her a Practising Certificate she should complete a course in solicitor and trust accounts and administration of estates and that she should be only be permitted to practice in employment approved by the Law Society.

National Counties Building Society of Church Street, Epsom, is suing solicitors Lancasters, of Esher, John Wayt of Esher, and Stephen Carroll of Pulborough, West Sussex, over claims brought by dozens of mortgagees. National Counties is seeking declarations as to whether the defendants are liable to contribute or indemnify National Counties against claims brought against it by the Investors Compensation Scheme (ICS). ICS has brought four actions against National Counties over mortgage transactions, and National Counties is seeking contributions and indemnities on the grounds that the defendants caused the loses by breaches of duty in contract and tort and breaches of fiduciary duty.

Writ issued by Addleshaw Booth & Co, Leeds.

The Mayor and Burgesses of the London Borough of Southwark have issued a writ claiming £107,509 from London Underground. It claims that London Underground agreed to carry out works for the A200 lower road improvement project but that it was aborted in autumn 1993, by which time the writ claims Southwark had already paid.

Writ issued by Lyn Meadows of London SE5.

Stephen Roberts, who claims he was kicked in the head by a soldier has launched a damages claim against the Ministry of Defence. The writ says Roberts suffered injuries when he was deliberately kicked in an incident on 30 September 1994.

Writ issued by Powell Spencer & Partners, London NW6.

Queen Mary's Sidcup NHS Trust is being sued for damages by the Bexleyheath family of a woman who died while in its care. The writ, issued by the family of Susan Scotter, claims her death was the result of negligent care and treatment by the health authority. The claim is brought under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Writ issued by Evill & Coleman, Putney, London SW15.

Peta Spooner of Rochester, Kent, is suing the Wellcome Foundation of Greenford, Middlesex, over injuries she received in an accident at its premises at Dartford in July 1995. The writ claims that the accident was the result of negligence and breach of statutory duty on the part of the company.

Writ issued by Thompsons, Ilford.