Law Society's Members Protection Management System

15 May 2004

Miss Aman Virk
Manager, Quality & Service Standards
Law Society
Victoria Court
8 Dormer Place
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV32 5AE

Your Ref. CDT/34497-2003/

Dear Miss Virk

Re; Complaint: -
Breach of the Confidentiality rule by Richard Hegarty and a Third Party

Thank you for your letter dated 7 May '04 and I take note that you did not 'provide' Richard Hegarty with my 'phone number and I will assume you did not 'provide' him with my business name.

Let me quote from your letter regarding The Chair of the Compliance Board; "Since both were acting in their capacity as Chair of the Law Society Board, and since this was Law Society business, the question of information passing outside of the Law Society would not in any event arise".

Let us look at the last part of that sentence; "the question of information passing outside of the Law Society would not in any event arise". Are you saying that any data/information that is collected from Complainants' files over the 'telephone' ('unsecured means') by whom it is assumed are members of the Law Society, even when they are 'closed files', is legally correct? Also are you saying data from Complainants' files can be passed to any member of the Law Society for 'unrelated purposes' to their complaint providing it is not "information passing outside of the Law Society"? Or are you saying Richard Hegarty as Chair of the Compliance Board has 'special rights' that he can ignore the rules on the collection of data and use Complainants' personal data for his own personal use(s) (see 'PS' below)?

Let us look at the Law Society's;
Data Protection Notice
We will use the information you give us to investigate your complaint. We will not use that information for any unconnected purpose without your consent. We will have to reveal your information to the firm or solicitor you have complained about. We may also have to reveal that information to our agents (people acting on our behalf) and to others involved in:

First of all let us look at "(people acting on our behalf)" if you read the letter Richard Hegarty sent to me (a copy of which I have already sent to you) he made it very clear he was not going to be involved with a "disgruntled" complainant so he clearly had or was not 'acting on' the Law Society's behalf, therefore he had no reason(s) to collect personal data on me. My telephone number and business name are personal, they were not part of my complaint and my permission was not given to anybody to allow them to pass it onto third parties, secondly you are out of order by saying a member of the Law Society who telephones the OSS and asks for such information is entitled to be given this personal and/or unrelated information.

Second, let us look at; "We will not use that information for any unconnected purpose…" The point here is Richard Hegarty rang me during the evening in reference to a solely personal matter that in no way related to the Law Society, now what you are saying is he was quite within his rights and the Law Society's rules to collect personal data to use for his own personal use, further to this as he had my address also all previous communication had been by letter and you are saying this was "Law Society business" which means he should have kept all contact by correspondence and not imposed into my personal space.

Let me quote you once more "I have seen no evidence that Mr Hegarty's call was anything more than an attempt to address with you an issue which you raised". You know as well as I do if Richard Hegarty thought there was an "issue" he wished to discuss he should have written to me, anyway, have you enquired what this "issue" was that was so important he had to collect my personal details and 'phone me during the evening? If he has explained this "issue" which you say I "raised" that needed to be discussed over the 'phone please tell me what it was (see 'PS' below). Let me say here, all other members of the Law Society who, in the past, wished to talk to me personally have written asking me to ring them or to give them a 'phone number they could contact me on. Why did Richard Hegarty act differently?

Let us move on to the Law Society' rules regarding the collection of data;
OSS and OSS complaint files
  1. The Code applies to the OSS as part of the Law Society, but complaint files will not be disclosable except to the data subject and to the extent permissible under the Act. However, as stated in paragraph B.3.2, findings of OSS adjudications will be disclosable, in so far as this is permissible under the Act.
  2. All requests for information in accordance with this Code shall be in writing, addressed to the Chief Executive, and shall be signed by the person making the request.
  3. A request may be for a specific item of information, or for information within a specific category, or for information related to a specific subject or topic, or a combination of these.
  4. Handling of requests for information
    A request for information shall be acknowledged by or on behalf of the Chief Executive within 14 days of its receipt.

I assume you have investigated where, how and/or the method in which Richard Hegarty collected my personal information also the purpose that he is required to give, which I assume will identify this "issue" that you say I "raised"?

At this point as my complaint included the 'third party' that supplied data to Richard Hegarty I believe I am entitled to all correspondence/telephone attendance notes from/to Richard Hegarty so as to identify the culprit which possibly you already know.

As it was not your Office that provided my personal data to Richard Hegarty then that would leave Thos Boyd Whyte, Mr A Higgins QC or Panesar & Co which now comes down to Breach of Confidentially and at least 'Professional misconduct';
Confidential Information
2.03 (1) A lawyer at all times shall hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of the client acquired in the course of the professional relationship and shall not divulge any such information unless expressly or impliedly authorized by the client or required by law to do so.
Commentary
The duties imposed by this rule concerning confidential information should be distinguished from the general ethical duty to hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of the client acquired in the course of the professional relationship, which duty applies without regard to the nature or source of the information or to the fact that others may share the knowledge.

Please tell me what steps you have taken regarding my complaint against the 'Third Party'? Let me quote the LSO 'little blue book'; "What the Ombudsman will do is check that all your complaints were addressed…" also "…didn't investigate your complaints properly or didn't investigate them at all…"

Let me refer to the letter I received on 18 February '04 from Amanda Malloy that states "…our files indicate you are complaining about a solicitor who is a member of the Council of The Law Society. In these circumstances we have a special procedure governing the way we investigate such complaints. This will involve The Law Society instructing an independent solicitor to investigate your complaint". It appears again you are ignoring the Law Society's rules in as much as you are not the person who should have carried out an investigation into my complaint and also you don't appear to be a 'qualified Solicitor'?

Finally you have closed my case and while investigating my complaint you failed to send me copy(s) of any response from Richard Hegarty if in fact there was any or if you even contacted him, you never kept me informed of what was happening and three months after telling me an 'independent solicitor' will be instructed, you change or in fact you ignore the rules. You never stated that I have a right to appeal and you also never advised me I have, or gave me any information, that I can complain to the Legal Services Ombudsman if I am dissatisfied. Let me again quote the Legal Services Ombudsman's 'little blue book' with regards to the OSS; "They should carry out a detailed, unbiased investigation…" Do you have a Collins English Dictionary?

Oh yes, I do know the meaning of "disgruntled" but in the context of his letter he was trying to stuff me back down the hole he assumed I had crawled out of. Let me quote how James Shutlar at The Department of Constitutional Affairs worded his letter "I am sorry to hear you remain unhappy with the legal profession. I have looked through your file and although I sympathise with your concerns…" Maybe 'Dickie' was educated at 'Boot Camp', you have, I assume, heard the saying 'A Bull in a China Shop' I think that sums up Richard Hegarty.

Yours sincerely


B R Gray

cc Information Commissioner and The Department of Constitutional Affairs

PS Below is part of my website http://www.solicitorsfromhell.com/news.htm, 13 and 17 September, that was the reason Richard Hegarty rang me and the 6 November is when he rang me at home.

13 September I received a letter from Mike Tyson 'SORRY' I meant the Chair of the Compliance Board, Richard Hegarty of Hegarty & CO Solicitors, 48 Broadway, Peterborough and he his ducking and diving so much I don't think 'poor old Mikey' is in his class. The bottom line is Richard Hegarty has no regards for the 'rules' and total disregard of clients and 'Client Care Agreements' (probably the reasons I mixed him up with 'Mikey'), may be Hegarty & CO Solicitors of Peterborough is a firm of solicitors that should be avoided at all costs and Richard Hegarty should use the title of "Chair of the Non-Compliance Board".

17 September I have today written a letter to Mike Tyson the 'Enforcer' 'WHOOPS' I meant to say, the Chair of the Compliance Board, Richard Hegarty telling him he is a waste of time and I will be writing to the President of the Law Society. I have further suggested to him, if he has not got the 'Balls' to do the job of the 'Rules Enforcer' he should step down. You would think Mikey 'WHOOPS' 'Dickie' would do his job and investigate to see if there had been any "non-compliance" of the rules before ignoring people and then referring to them as "disgruntled complainants".

6 November '03 'Dickie' the Law Society's Chair of the Compliance Board rang me at home during the evening, to me it sounded like a touch of 'intimidation'. However, if you would like to know what he said and why you should be wary if you are a client of, or are considering using Hegarty & CO Solicitors who have offices in Peterborough and Stamford click here.

Question; would you say the above is "Law Society business"???? According to your letter, where you are putting a defence for Richard Hegarty instead of "carry out a detailed, unbiased investigation", that is precisely what you are saying. I believe you should have given me the option of replying to anything Richard Hegarty said, assuming that you did contact him? But then again, the Law Society rules state you should have appointed an 'independent' solicitor to investigate my complaint being as it was against a 'member of the Council of the Law Society'. Maybe you could tell me why, after saying an 'independent' solicitor would be instructed by the Law Society, you didn't comply with the Law Society rules?

Top