SDT: David Soulsby Williamson

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  • Application 10769-2011
  • Admitted 1975
  • Hearing 24 January 2012
  • Reasons 10 February 2012

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The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £1,000. While practising on his own account as Soulsby Williamson Solicitors, 73 Parkway, Ruislip Manor, Middlesex.

HA4 8NS, the respondent had failed to comply with the adjudicator’s direction of 20 May 2010 to pay Mrs LBM the sum of £10,201.28, consisting of £750 general compensation and £9,451.28 compensation for legal costs, following findings of inadequate services in relation to the complaint of CK Solicitors for and on behalf of Mrs LBM, contrary to rule 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007; and he had failed to comply with the adjudicator’s direction of 20 May 2010 to pay Legal Complaints Service costs of £882.96 in connection with its investigation of the service complaints made by CK Solicitors for and on behalf of Mrs LBM, contrary to rule 1.06 of the code.

In considering sanction, the SDT had noted the respondent’s genuine feeling that the adjudicator’s decision had been unfair. The respondent clearly believed that he had done a decent job for his clients and that he had been left ‘carrying the can’ when the relationship between Mrs M and her daughter broke down. However, the adjudicator had made a decision that it was fair and proper to order the respondent to pay compensation and an amount equivalent to Mrs M’s legal costs in the court proceedings against her daughter, together with the LCS’s costs of the investigation. The SDT could not go behind that decision, which had been made properly in accordance with the relevant procedures and in the light of the failure of the respondent, first, to insist that the parents and daughter should be advised independently and, second, to record properly the advice he had given to the parties.

The SDT noted that Mrs M had been paid the amount awarded to her by the adjudicator, albeit by insurers rather than by the respondent directly. The fact that that payment had been made mitigated the damage to the reputation of the profession, but nevertheless some damage had been done. Furthermore, the sums due in respect of the LCS’s costs remained outstanding. It was not a situation where the respondent had been ­financially unable to comply with the adjudicator’s decision: rather, he had refused to pay.

In doing so, he had set himself above other members of the profession, all of whom were obliged to comply with the rules and directions of the profession’s regulatory body. The SDT considered that wilful refusal to comply with an adjudicator’s direction showed arrogance. The seriousness of the respondent’s default merited a fine. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,200.

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