Reports relating to Christopher James Forrest; Caroline Rose Goodenough; Ross James Porter; Morag Wilson Yellowlees
Christopher James Forrest 

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Christopher James Forrest, formerly solicitor, Falkirk. The Tribunal found the respondent not guilty of professional misconduct. The Tribunal did not consider that the conduct established might meet the test for unsatisfactory professional conduct and therefore declined to remit the complaint to the Council in terms of s 53ZA of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

The respondent was the solicitor acting for the seller in a conveyancing transaction. An issue arose with a residents’ association regarding the position of a boundary fence. He did not disclose this to the other side. A question arose as to whether that issue ought to have been disclosed as an outstanding “dispute”. The Tribunal found that the respondent’s conduct did not constitute a serious and reprehensible departure from the standards of competent and reputable solicitors. There was insufficient specification of the issue to categorise it as a “dispute”. In any case, the respondent considered that the matter was resolved and was entitled to rely on the client’s reassurance in that regard. The client had been advised that the matter would require to be disclosed if not resolved. 

Caroline Rose Goodenough

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Caroline Rose Goodenough, now with Keenan Solicitors, Greenock. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect that she failed to act with integrity, misled others and breached rules B1.2, B1.10 and B1.14 of the Law Society of Scotland Practice Rules 2011. The Tribunal censured the respondent and fined her £3,000.

The respondent misled the secondary complainer and her then client relations manager regarding progress on a guardianship application and whether legal aid had been granted. She failed to act with competence and diligence. The respondent was given many opportunities to check the file or Legal Aid Online, and did not do so, even although she was specifically asked about the grant of legal aid. Failure to do so was reckless. She repeatedly misled others with regard to legal aid and medical reports. The Tribunal accepted that she was suffering workload and stress problems. Her conduct in these circumstances fell short of dishonesty but demonstrated a lack of integrity.

Ross James Porter

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Ross James Porter, solicitor, Perth. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect that he (a) sent emails to the secondary complainer on 1 and 2 April 2014 in terms which were inappropriate, derogatory and offensive in their nature and which were capable of bringing the profession into disrepute; (b) sent emails to the secondary complainer on 1 and 2 April 2014 which were inappropriate, derogatory and offensive in their nature, which drew the respondent’s integrity into question and thereby constituted a breach of rule B1.2 of the Practice Rules 2011; (c) sent emails to the secondary complainer’s mother on 2 April 2014 which were inappropriate and offensive in their nature towards the secondary complainer and which were capable of bringing the profession into disrepute; (d) sent emails to the secondary complainer’s mother on 2 April 2014 which were inappropriate and offensive in their nature towards the secondary complainer, which drew the respondent’s integrity into question and thereby constituted a breach of rule B1.2 of the Practice Rules 2011.

The Tribunal censured the respondent and awarded £750 compensation to the secondary complainer.

It is a fundamental principle that a solicitor requires to be a person of integrity. By sending inappropriate, derogatory and offensive emails to clients, the respondent allowed his integrity to be called into question. The Tribunal noted particularly that the respondent was aware of the secondary complainer’s mental health background and this made his comments particularly offensive. These comments were capable of bringing the profession into disrepute. The conduct was a serious and reprehensible departure from the standards of competent and reputable solicitors and therefore constituted professional misconduct. The Tribunal noted that the professional misconduct took place during a 24 hour period in an otherwise unblemished career. The respondent had cooperated with the fiscal and the Tribunal. He had demonstrated remorse and insight. He had attempted to minimise the impact on the secondary complainer by offering to meet and apologise. On the scale of solicitor’s wrongdoing, the Tribunal considered the misconduct to be at the lower end. Accordingly, it censured the respondent.

Morag Wilson Yellowlees

A complaint was made by the Council of the Law Society of Scotland against Morag Wilson Yellowlees, Lindsays, Edinburgh. The Tribunal found the respondent guilty of professional misconduct in respect of her breaches of rules 3 and 5(2) of the Solicitors (Scotland) Practice Rules 1986 and rules 3 and 6 of the Solicitors (Scotland) (Standards of Conduct) Practice Rules 2008. The Tribunal censured the respondent and fined her £5,000.

The respondent accepted instructions in 2010 to act on behalf of three parties in connection with the purchase of a property and its financing. There was a clear conflict between the interests of the parties. The respondent’s conduct constituted a serious and reprehensible departure from the standards of competent and reputable solicitors. The conflict of interest between these parties was obvious. The fact that the respondent identified it, yet failed to take appropriate steps, was an aggravating factor, as was the continuing risk of prejudice to one of the parties.

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