Solicitor Struck off

The Law society reported:

Wednesday 20 December 1989 - Ralph Henry Edward Kissack (decision 4442)

Tribunal: Mr A Gaynor-Smith (chairman), Mr Fordham and Dame Simone Prendergast Hearing, 27 July 1989; Decision, 2 November 1989

Practising uncertificated -- late delivery of accountant's report -- failure to keep proper accounts -- failure to pay fees -- failure to reply to correspondence -- failure to pay indemnity insurance

Ralph Henry Edward Kissack, the respondent, was admitted in 1978 and at all material times practised on his own account. He made no application for a practising certificate after 31 October 1984. His accountant's report for the period ended 30 April 1984 was delivered late and no subsequent report had been filed. He failed to pay the premium for indemnity insurance for the practice year 1988/89. In August 1987, construction surveyors whom the respondent had engaged submitted an account for their services. Despite two reminders, no payment was made until June 1988 (after the intervention of the Solicitors Complaints Bureau). In November 1987 the respondent's London agent submitted a schedule of unpaid agency accounts to him with a request for payment. There was no reply to the letter. Following a further request, two payments were made in May 1988. The respondent failed to reply, however, to two further requests for payment and the matter was referred to the bureau. No reply was received to a letter from the bureau on the subject; in response to a reminder, the respondent stated that he would make contact with his London agent within 10 days, but he failed to do so. No reply was made to a further letter from the bureau, but the account was settled in April 1989. The bureau's investigation accountant inspected the respondent's accounts in January 1989. The clients' cas book and the clients' ledger contained no entries after 31 August 1988. Complaint was made on behalf of the Law Society to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on 12 April 1989 (and by supplementary affidavits on 3 July and 12 July 1989) that the respondent had been guilty of unbefitting conduct, in that:

he had practised uncertificated; he had failed to deliver accountant's reports to the Society in respect of his practice, contrary to s.34 of the Solicitors Act 1974; he had delivered an accountant's report late, contrary to s.34 he had failed to keep properly written-up books of account, contrary to r.11 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1986; he had failed to discharge the fees of an expert witness as they fell due; he had failed to pay the fees of a solicitor agent as they fell due; he had failed to reply to correspondence from solicitors and the Solicitors Complaints Bureau promptly, or at all (two allegations); and he had failed to pay the insurance premium required by s.37 and the 1974 Act for the year commencing 1 September 1988.

Geoffrey Williams, a partner in Cartwrights, Cardiff, for the applicant. The respondent did not appear and was not represented, although an affidavit sworn by him and a letter addressed to the applicant were produced to the tribunal. In his letter, the respondent stated that he admitted all the allegations. He had sought voluntary removal of his name from the Roll, but this had been refused as disciplinary proceedings were pending. He apologised for his failure to settle accounts and to reply to letters. He admitted failing to keep proper accounts on occasions. His accounts were now in order, but his accountant could not issue an accountant's report until the respondent had paid his previous accountant; this he was unwilling to do in view of that accountant's failings. In his affidavit, the respondent invited the tribunal to consider whether it should consider the allegation of practising uncertificated. He had been charged with a criminal offence of practising a criminal offence of practising as a solicitor whilst unqualified (in this case, without holding a practisinig certificate), contrary to s.20 of the Solicitors Act 1974. He intended to plead 'guilty', but suggested that whilst his case was pending the matter was sub judice. The respondent's practice, which had included a high percentage of conveyancing, had been adversely hit by the financial climate. He was insolvent, his health was failing and he had no intention of practising again in this country. He had always endeavoured to maintain the highest standards and was supported by a large number of former clients.

The tribunal found the allegations, which had not been contested, to have been substantiated. It ruled that it had jurisdiction to consider the allegation of practising uncertificated. It expressed sympathy for the respondent whose financial difficulties were not his fault. He had, however, put his head in the sand when problems had arisen and had failed to deal with important administrative matters fundamental to the proper running of a practice. The tribunal ordered Ralph Henry Edward Kissack of 50a High Street, New Romney, Kent, to be struck off the Roll. The respondent was ordered to pay costs (to be taxed)

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