Law Society further comment on Christopher Hales case
In response to why the Law Society took until December 2014 to raise this with the Crown Office, Lorna Jack, Chief Executive of the Law Society said:
“We took action against Christopher Hales to protect the public by prosecuting him before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal, who struck him off as a solicitor. Mr Hales was suspended from practising as a solicitor by the Law Society in 2011 prior to his case going before the SSDT. Our priority was to ensure that he could not practice while investigations into any breach of Law Society accounts rules were ongoing.
“The case itself presented us with an unusual set of circumstances - it is rare for a misconduct case against a solicitor to have to be taken further following tribunal proceedings.
“When it became apparent to us that there were concerns about the risk of mortgage fraud following publication of the SSDT’s report, which stated that Mr Hales had breached several Council of Mortgage Lender requirements, we reported this to the Crown Office.
“Currently the Law Society’s Guarantee Fund Sub-Committee decides if SSDT findings should be formally reported to the authorities. The committee comprises both solicitors and non-solicitors.
“We acknowledge that there was an internal delay in the report reaching the committee, this was due to staff workloads, however there was no delay once the committee had made its decision to report the matter to the Crown Office.
“We will examine our processes to see if there are any improvements we can make in how we report findings from the SSDT to the Crown Office where there are concerns that there may have been criminal activity. We plan to work with the SSDT and the Crown Office in particular to improve information of this nature is shared more quickly if and when required.”
ENDS 30 September 2015
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All SSDT findings are published on its website. www.ssdt.org.uk