An Angus solicitor has been struck off after the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal found him guilty of professional misconduct on five separate complaints.
John Fleming Hamilton was the sole partner in Forfar practice Maclean & Lowson, and a former member of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland. He was suspended from practice in 2013 and sequestrated by HMRC in 2014.
Among various grounds of complaint covering the years prior to and after his suspension, the Tribunal found that he failed to advise clients he was suspended and that his client account was frozen; he misled another by suggesting she was an executor, and successor to a previous executor, in order to obtain payment of fees; he took client funds to fees in breach of the rules, and in another case took fees without rendering a fee note and without authority; he failed to communicate effectively with clients, amd failed to act in their best interests.
It was stated for Mr Hamilton that his firm had run into difficulties after clients' money was wrongly withheld by a bank. He was under enormous stress and had become unwell. The tribunal noted, however, that much of the misconduct had taken place prior to that point. Having regard to the variety of conduct indicating dishonesty, into which Mr Hamilton did not appear to have "demonstrated insight", his conduct "demonstrated a danger to the public and was likely to seriously damage the reputation of the legal profession. His conduct showed he was not a fit person to be a solicitor".
The tribunal therefore ordered his name to be struck off the roll of solicitors.