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Suffolk solicitor suspended

PUBLISHED: 16:59 05 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK solicitor who used money in an estate to pay a bill contrary to a grant of probate, was suspended for six months today.

Christopher Edward Landin also transferred funds from one client ledger to another to meet his costs, again in breach of the grant of probate, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was told.

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A SUFFOLK solicitor who used money in an estate to pay a bill contrary to a grant of probate, was suspended for six months today.

Christopher Edward Landin also transferred funds from one client ledger to another to meet his costs, again in breach of the grant of probate, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was told.

Jon Goodwin, for the Law Society, said he was not alleging Mr Landin, of Kestrel Drive, Stowmarket, had acted dishonestly.

The tribunal heard Mr Landin had acted for a Mrs N while he was a partner in Haywards, in Buttermarket, Stowmarket, – although he had since left the firm.

Mr Landin, 53, who did not attend the Central London hearing, had been dealing with the proposed sale of a property belonging to Mrs N when she died in July 1994.

A dispute arose concerning the validity of her will and Mr Landin was given a grant of probate in October 1995.

Mr Goodwin said the terms of that grant were quite "strict".

In February 1996 an interim bill was raised for £1,932 and this amount was taken by way of costs by transferring that sum from client to office bank account.

The tribunal heard that Mr Landin subsequently agreed that carrying out such a transfer was excluded by the grant.

Later, a further bill was raised for £235 in relation to proposed sale of deceased Mrs N's.

Mr Goodwin said funds were not available on the relevant ledger to pay this and Mr Landin arranged for the transfer of funds from the probate ledger to the property ledger. This was also in breach of the grant of probate.

The tribunal heard Mr Landin's actions created a shortfall on client account of £2,167.88.

Mr Landin admitted a string of allegations against conduct unbefitting a solicitor including transferring costs in breach of the terms of grant of probate, utilising clients funds for his own purpose and withdrawing money of the client account other than as permitted by accounting rules.

Mr Landin further admitted he accepted instructions to act as a solicitor for two clients where there was a conflict of interest and continuing to act where such a conflict arose.

Tribunal Chairman Andrew Spooner, ordered Mr Landin, who did not attend and was not represented, be suspended from practice as a solicitor for six months and to pay costs of £5,447.

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