Clive Franks, Franks Macadam Brown solicitors, Edinburgh. A SOLICITOR who sat on a Law Society of Scotland Complaints Committee and acted as a ‘Reporter’ for the society in complaints investigations against corrupt lawyers, killed himself the same week the Law Society launched an investigation into missing client funds and faulty accounting.
CLIVE FRANKS (60), a partner in Edinburgh law firm, Franks Macdam Brown.was found dead in the garage of his home in Dalgety Bay, Fife, at around 4.30pm on Monday, November 10.
Franks had been under Investigation by the Law Society, after concerns were raised over his firm's accounts. It is reported he was facing suspension of his practicing certificate.
After reports of irregularities, reports from inside the Law Society suggest client money was either missing, or the accounting records were so poor or had been faked up to cover possible fraud, it was hard to tell whether cash had disappeared.
Mr Franks last year defended a high profile case involving building tycoon Alfred Stewart, who cut his four children out of his £6.7mllllon will and left the bulk of the money to charity when he died In 2008. The will was changed 28 days before Stewart died, and named Franks as his personal solicitor and executor.
The Court of Session opinion issued by Lord Brailsford and available on the Scottish Courts website HERE reveals: “Mr Stewart described his father as being strict and controlling and possessing a short temper. He appears to have been particularly unpleasant towards his wife, Mr Stewart's mother. According to Mr Stewart, he displayed no patience towards the lady. On a number of occasions this "stepped over into physical abuse".
“According to Mr Stewart, when his mother returned home later that evening, his father "went ballistic". Mr Stewart and his siblings were terrified and ran to their bedrooms. He could hear what he believed was his father assaulting his mother. He said that his grandfather tried to intervene and prevent the physical abuse being perpetrated by the testator.”
Franks was also a trustee of the Alfred Stewart Trust, the charity established in the will and won against the challenge brought by Stewart’s family.
A spokesman for the society said: "We were very saddened to hear about the death of Mr Franks and offer our sympathies to his friends and family during what must be a distressing time."
"We can confirm that Mr Franks was subject to an Investigation by the Law Society. A Judicial factor was appointed by the courts on Friday, November 14. The application to appoint a judicial factor was made to the court to protect clients' interests after the Law Society raised concerns about the firm's accounting records."
The Law Society have not issued a press release on the case. Franks Macadam Brown could not be contacted for comment.
In a submission Clive Franks made to the Scottish Parliament some years ago to lobby against legal reforms of the complaints system, he revealed he acted as a “reporter” for the Law Society of Scotland. A “reporter” is a solicitor who investigates complaints made against other solicitors.
Mr Franks wrote: I qualified as a solicitor in the service of the Bank of Scotland in 1980, and remained an employed solicitor within the Bank of Scotland, prior to setting up my own practice in 1985. I was appointed a Reporter to the Client Relations Office of the Law Society of Scotland in 1998, becoming a Committee Member in 1999. As a Reporter I have completed over 100 Reports for the Law Society. In 2004 I was appointed Convenor of Client Relations Committee A, the first non-council member of the Law Society of Scotland to be appointed to a convenorship.
Until quite recently, neither Reporters nor Committee Members were paid for their work. Nowadays Reporters receive an honorarium of £100 per Report satisfactorily completed, and Committee Members receive a payment of £50 per meeting attended. I have yet to do a Report that took less than 2 hours, and some take a considerable amount of time, usually outwith office hours, i.e. in my spare time.Committee Meetings usually take 2 hours or more, with as much time again, if not more, being spent in preparation work - reading the Committee papers and familiarising oneself with their contents, so that one is thoroughly briefed by the time of attendance at Committee.I think it will be seen that, although a small payment is now received, Reporters and Committee Members are hardly well paid, and it might be said that their much dedicated work is a contribution of good will to the Law Society.
Coincidentally, Clive Franks suicide came the same week the Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) launched a 'How to' complaint against a lawyer video in an attempt to curb rising numbers of complaints against corrupt solicitors and poor legal services in Scotland.
The latest suicide of a lawyer comes a few years after a case where solicitor James Muir, based in Bothwell, Lanarkshire committed suicide in 2005 after it was revealed he was being investigated by the Scottish Legal Aid Board for stealing £1.8 million in Legal Aid.