Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 29/08/95

ROBERT JAMES COOLES, 47, admitted 1971, practised in partnership with Abbott Cresswell, London SW14, suspended for two years and ordered to pay £1,728 costs. Allegations substantiated he wrongly drew and used client money and failed to keep proper accounts. Tribunal told investigation accountant's reports revealed client account shortfall of £285,637. Tribunal said Cooles had paid out money which was not in his possession on behalf of a client. The result was a substantial shortfall on client account and while tribunal was assured that replacement of the money was imminent, breaches of accounting rules were serious. Cooles' partners and Indemnity Fund had been put at potential risk. Tribunal took a serious view of solicitors who took risks with other people's money.

MICHAEL ALAN ATKIN, 65, admitted 1955, practised in partnership with MM Rossfield & Co, Ousegate, York, suspended until he holds current practising certificate and ordered to pay £610 costs. Allegations substantiated he practised without certificate and failed to reply to letters from Solicitors Complaints Bureau. Atkin was previously before the tribunal in 1991 when he was fined £1,000 for failing to act in client affairs with due diligence and misleading client as to progress of case and admitted the allegations. In his submissions to tribunal he said he had simply been unable to afford to pay practising certificate fee. He said the practice was a small, two-person partnership, there appeared to be no end to the recession in the area where he practised, there was very little conveyancing work and his partner only had sufficient work to keep him employed on a part-time basis. He said his lack of a practising certificate did not make any difference to his clients and he continued to be a competent and diligent solicitor. His clients had not suffered. Tribunal said it recognised the difficult financial situation Atkin found himself in but he could not be allowed to continue practising without a certificate.

JAMES HEWISON, admitted 1980, practising with Herbert Hewison & Cholmeley, Banbury, Oxfordshire, fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,055 costs. Allegations substantiated he failed to honour terms of undertaking given as solicitor and failed to reply to correspondence from Solicitors Complaints Bureau. Tribunal told he had failed to comply with undertaking given by him to discharge debt in respect of photocopier hire for his firm. He later failed to answer letters from the Complaints Bureau on the matter. He had previously been fined £500 for unreasonable delay in conduct of professional business, failing to reply to letters from solicitors, failing to reply to letters from SCB. Tribunal was "dismayed" to see Hewison before it for a second time. It said he should have known a 'head in the sand' attitude did not resolve anything and only cost more at the end of the day.