Solicitor suspended over client deficits
A solicitor has been suspended indefinitely from practice by the High Court after allowing a number of deficits to arise in an account used to hold client money.
Pamela Wall, who practised at Carmody Street, Ennis, Co Clare, before she closed it down in 2008, was found guilty last July by a Law Society Solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal of 59 counts of professional misconduct.
While no client was ultimately at a loss as a result of her activities, she improperly used funds over nearly nine years, including using one sum of €5,928 of clients’ money to help pay for a piano in September 2000, the tribunal found.
The findings included failure to maintain sufficiently books to allow the true position of clients’ funds be determined when the society investigated her practice between December 2007 and February 2008. She was also found guilty on several counts of improperly causing or allowing money in the client account to be transferred or drawn to the office account. This created deficits in the client account when such money, under regulations, are strictly ring-fenced.
Ms Wall yesterday asked the High Court to uphold a recommendation she should be suspended rather than struck off. The Law Society recommended a full strike-off order, which makes it more difficult to get back into the profession, given the seriousness of the breaches.
The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said, given Ms Wall is a single mother and sole carer of her elderly parents, he would not impose the “ultimate sanction” of a strike-off. He was satisfied with an undertaking from Ms Wall she would never again apply for a practising certificate and the justice of this case could be met with an indefinite suspension.
The court heard Ms Wall was trying to establish an alternative career.
In an affidavit, Ms Wall accepted her book-keeping was “appalling” but no client suffered any loss.