A Russell-Cooke team lead by Peter Cadman has successfully represented the Solicitors Regulation Authority in the matter of James Beresford and Douglas Smith, who faced allegations of professional misconduct at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Both solicitors were struck from the Roll as the SDT upheld that the their behaviour constituted conduct unbecoming of solicitors and that they were dishonest in their dealings with their Miners' Compensation Fund clients whilst working at Beresfords Solicitors.
The case centred on allegations that Mr Beresford and Mr Smith failed to act in the interests of their clients after taking a cut of payments made to sick miners under the Government's British Coal compensation schemes. They were also accused of conflict of interest, failing to give clients adequate advice and information, and creating fee arrangements that were not in the clients' best interests.
The Tribunal found that "Cases such as this reflect upon the whole profession and its standing in the eyes of the public... Any solicitor who is shown to have discharged his professional duties with anything other than complete trustworthiness, must expect severe sanctions to be imposed." The Tribunal went on to state that Beresfords had been acting for miners whilst being conflicted throughout and that "...if ever there was a group of persons who needed the full care, skill and attention from solicitors it was these miners."
Mr Beresford and Mr Smith both denied all the allegations but the Tribunal held that "Mr Beresford described himself as an entrepreneur. Unfortunately his commercial attitude allowed himself and Mr Smith to put commercial goals before their clients' best interests."
The Russell-Cooke team included Semin Taner and Matt Bosworth. Instructed counsel were Tim Dutton QC and Jamie McClelland of Fountain Court chambers.
For further information please contact Peter Cadman