Solicitors (Complaints)

Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd December 1984.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Battersea 12:00 am, 3rd December 1984

asked the Attorney-General if he has any plans to meet the Law Society to discuss the handling of complaints against solicitors.

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

No, but it is intended this Session to introduce legislation to give effect to the Law Society's proposals to improve and extend its disciplinary powers.

Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Battersea

Is the Minister aware that there is still serious anxiety about the lack of sanctions against solicitors and that this month the legal action group drew attention to a case, which the Law Society refused to investigate against a solicitor in North Bedfordshire, in which the solicitor had advised his client to commit a criminal offence? The north Bedfordshire borough council and the court refused to do anything about it. How can the public interest be protected in such instances?

Photo of Sir Patrick Mayhew Sir Patrick Mayhew , Tunbridge Wells

The professional purposes committee of the Law Society, which will be augmented to include lay representatives and solicitors who are not members of the society's council, will be given powers to order a solicitor whose work has fallen short of the appropriate standard to remit or repay part or all of his costs or to do specified work at his own expense. The society will be given wider powers to compel the production of case files and to impose conditions on a solicitor's practising certificate. A number of other improvements will also be made in the existing arrangements. It can be fairly said that the Law Society has greatly increased the amount of attention that it has given in the past to anxieties of the sort that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.