Report relating to Richard Allan Sandeman


Richard Allan Sandeman


Two complaints were made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Richard Allan Sandeman, solicitor, Falkirk. In relation to complaint 1, the Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his breach of rule 21 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Accounts etc Rules 2001, censured the respondent and fined him in the sum of £3,000. In relation to complaint 2 under the 2008 Rules, the Tribunal found the respondent not guilty of professional misconduct but remitted the complaint in terms of s 53ZA of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

In respect of complaint 1, the respondent accepted his breach of the rules. It was of concern to the Tribunal that it apparently did not even cross the respondent’s mind to get Mr C to obtain independent advice with regard to lending the respondent money. £18,000 is a significant sum. The respondent’s interest was in receiving a loan for his own sole benefit, whereas Mr C’s interest was to be given as much protection as possible to ensure that repayment could be enforced if required. At the time the loan was given, no documentation was prepared. The Tribunal considered it inexcusable that the respondent put a close friend at risk in this way. A solicitor ought not to enter into any contracts or transactions with his clients where his own personal interests may be in conflict. This was clearly the case here and the Tribunal had no hesitation in making a finding of professional misconduct. The Tribunal noted previous findings of misconduct, but did not consider that the respondent posed a risk to the public.

In respect of complaint 2, the Tribunal found the respondent in breach of rule 24 of the Accounts Rules in respect of his failure to take any steps to check the source of the funds being received from Ms A as repayments of a loan from a third party. Given the evidence led, the Tribunal was unable to make a finding as to whether Ms A was a client at the time of the loan, but accepted that she had previously been a client and was a local businesswoman whom the respondent had known for over 10 years. Taken with the fact that the repayments were only in the region of £1,500 instalments, the Tribunal could not find that this breach of rule 24 was so serious and reprehensible as to meet the Sharp test. In respect of Mr and Mrs B (a cash payment of £33,000, the free proceeds of sale of their property), the Tribunal considered that a failure to carry out formal identification checks was a technical failure given that the respondent had previously acted for Mr and Mrs B and knew them. He also knew the source of the funds, having been involved in the sale of their property. However there were a number of unusual circumstances: the signed mandate to pay Mr B’s father which was then cancelled, the large cash payment and the lack of formal identification documentation, which might mean that this in cumulo with the respondent’s actings in respect of Ms A could amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct. In the circumstances the Tribunal remitted the complaint to the Society in terms of s 53ZA to consider this matter.



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