HC Deb 24 May 1900 vol 83 cc1110-1
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I beg to ask Mr. Attorney General whether, in view of the recent exposures in the Bankruptcy Court of solicitors who have received money or securities from clients or others without a direction to pay or apply such moneys to a specified purpose, and have taken advantage of the existing state of the law to misapply them to the loss of their clients, the Government can see their way so to amend the law as to secure protection against such misappropriations; and whether, seeing that the Incorporated Law Society, as the registrar of solicitors, renews annually certificates to practice to solicitors who have become bankrupt, and whose discharge has been refused by the Court of Bankruptcy on the ground of fraud, or has been suspended for dishonourable conduct, and that all solicitors are officers of the High Court, the Government will take steps by legislation or otherwise to prevent the society from granting such renewals, and give to the High Court the power to suspend or refuse the certificates of such solicitors.


The Government have under consideration the question of altering the law so as to make criminal the misappropriation of moneys or securities by an agent, even though there be no direction in writing as to their application, as is at present required by law. Such an alteration has been recommended by the special committee of the Incorporated Law Society. With regard to the second branch of the question, I am informed that immediately after a decision of the High Court in April, 1899, that they had power in all cases to do so, the Law Society resolved not to renew the certificates of persons known to be undischarged bankrupts. The question of making provision for more effective inquiry as to the circum- stances attending the bankruptcy in every case in which the applicant for renewal has been bankrupt is now under consideration.