A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Neil Brennan Barnes, solicitor, Glasgow. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of his failure to settle fee notes, and his breach of rules B1.9.1 and B1.14.1 of the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011. The Tribunal censured the respondent.
The respondent failed to settle his Edinburgh agent’s fee notes for a long period, failed to communicate with that company effectively about two accounts and failed in his duty to act with other regulated persons with mutual trust and confidence. The Tribunal considered carefully the level of culpability in the case and was satisfied that it met the test for professional misconduct. The long period of time during which the secondary complainer had sought a response from the respondent was critical. The Tribunal also noted with concern that in the one case, the respondent had received money from SLAB and did not pass on the element due to the secondary complainer. Even if there had been a dispute regarding payment, he retained the funds and did nothing about it. The Tribunal considered that the misconduct was at the lower end of the scale and the finding of misconduct and censure was sufficient to mark the gravity of the offence, protect the public and uphold the reputation of the profession.
A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Martha Anne Rafferty, Berlow Rahman Solicitors, Glasgow. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of her conviction of a charge under s 7(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 together with two previous convictions under s 5(1)(a) and s 7(6) of said Act. The Tribunal censured the respondent and fined her £10,000.
The Tribunal noted that the offence followed a car park collision when the respondent was parking before attending court. She failed to provide a breath test at the police station. Failing to cooperate with the police in relation to providing a specimen of breath in these circumstances was a serious and reprehensible departure from the standards of competent and reputable solicitors. She was required by law to provide a sample and failed to do so. This conduct was likely to bring the profession into disrepute. It brought her integrity into question and was therefore in breach of rule B1.2 which provides that a solicitor’s personal integrity must be beyond question.
The Tribunal was concerned that this was the respondent’s third conviction for road traffic matters. It considered that it would not be appropriate simply to censure her again. The Tribunal imposed a fine of £10,000 to mark the seriousness with which the Tribunal viewed the respondent’s conduct in the context of the previous findings of misconduct.
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