The Law Society of Scotland has today confirmed the outcome of its review into the handling of the case of Christopher Hales.
Mr Hales was suspended by the Law Society in 2011 and subsequently prosecuted before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) where he was struck off for misconduct in 2014 in relation to a series of mortgage transactions.
The Society carried out a review into its handling of the case which sets out a series of conclusions. The review recommendations have since been approved by its Audit Committee, which is made up of both solicitors and non-solicitors, and the Law Society’s governing Council.
That review concluded that:
- The initial Law Society financial inspection of Christopher Hales’ firm in 2011, followed by the rapid suspension within 21 days of that inspection and subsequent prosecution of Hales before the Scottish Solicitors’ Discipline Tribunal (SSDT) worked effectively
- A suspicious activity report was submitted to the then Serious and Organised Crime Agency (now the National Crime Agency) in 2011, in keeping with the Law Society’s statutory obligations, shortly after the initial financial inspection of the firm.
- There was no formal protocol, including timescales, agreed with the Crown Office regarding the Society carrying out the additional step of passing on the full case file after the SSDT finding,
- Allegations that staff members had interfered with the handling of the case for political reasons were not only completely unfounded, but there was no scope for such interference
Christine McLintock, President of the Law Society said: “As the professional body for Scottish solicitors for over 60 years we take our statutory responsibilities towards the profession and the public very seriously. Through our regulatory committees and the staff team at the Society, we work very hard to uphold the high standards expected of solicitors and to protect members of the public who rely on the advice and services they provide.
“We took swift action after identifying the issues at Christopher Hales’ firm in 2011, which included rapidly suspending Mr Hales from practice and making a suspicious activity report. Following our investigation we prosecuted him before the SSDT, which resulted in him being struck off.
“We said we would examine the issues raised as a result of this case to determine what lessons could be learned. We have now identified where operational improvements can be made and are taking these forward in conjunction with other organisations. This work will be overseen by the Society’s Regulatory Committee, which comprises both solicitors and non-solicitors.”
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