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Richard Allan Sandeman v. The Council of the Law Society of Scotland [2011] CSIH 24


On 29 March 2010 the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal had found the petitioner guilty of professional misconduct and made an order censuring him, finding him liable for the expenses of the proceedings before it. The petitioner appealed against that decision under section 54 of the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980.

The petitioner argued firstly, that the circumstances of his referral to the tribunal did not justify them finding him guilty of professional misconduct, and secondly, that the tribunal were wrong to hold that professional misconduct was established on the basis that the petitioner's conduct brought the profession into disrepute. The petitioner was alleged to have acted where there was a conflict of interest between two clients.

In relation to the first matter, the Inner House found that the petitioner had indeed acted in a situation where a conflict of interest existed, with the mutual interests of his clients being irreconcilable. They noted however that whether such actions amounted to professional misconduct was a less straightforward matter - a finding of that kind would depend on the gravity and whole circumstances of the facts. Nonetheless, having considered the whole circumstances of the situation, the Inner House found that the tribunal was entitled to find that the conduct in question might have brought the profession into disrepute, and that conduct of that gravity and culpability was sufficient to justify a finding of professional misconduct. Appeal refused.