HC Deb 01 May 1972 vol 836 cc24-5
30. Mr. Stanbrook

asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation to enable him to control the way in which the Law Society considers complaints of misconduct against solicitors.

The Attorney-General (Sir Peter Rawlinson)

No, Sir. I have no reason so suppose that the Law Society does not consider complaints in the right way.

Mr. Stanbrook

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that a complaint made privately to the Law Society alleging misconduct by a firm of solicitors was recently rejected by the Society with a threat of defamation proceedings if it were not unconditionally withdrawn and that this appears to be the standard practice? How can the public be protected against dishonest solicitors if the Law Society joins in threats designed to discourage the pursuit of such complaints?

The Attorney-General

I am aware of this correspondence, some of which my hon. Friend sent to me. It is not correct to suggest that the Law Society made a threat. An allegation had been made against a firm of solicitors. They had given their explanation and they resented the allegation of misconduct which was made against them. It was they who made the reference to defamation, and the Law Society, in repeating the letter, repeated that word to the gentleman.

Mr. Orme

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that many of us are highly dissatisfied with the manner in which complaints against solicitors are dealt with by the Law Society? They are judge and jury in their own cause. This is not fair to the majority of solicitors who operate absolutely impeccably. Will the Attorney-General look at this matter, because I am sure that many hon. Members are able to give instances of grave dissatisfaction?

The Attorney-General

I cannot agree that the Law Society does not perform meticulously the duty which is imposed upon it. The Professional Purposes Committee is the appropriate Committee established to examine these matters. On a complaint against a solicitor, the Law Society rightly discovers what the solicitor's answer is, and if it is unsatisfactory it is sent to the Professional Purposes Committee. In fact, the Society is at present considering whether lay membership should be included on that Committee.