Law Society v Beller (2014)
The Law Society intervened in the defendant solicitor’s practice. Pursuant to paragraph 6 of Schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974, various sums in relation to the defendant solicitor’s practice became vested in the Law Society on a statutory trust. Certain outstanding fees in respect of work carried out by the defendant solicitor prior to the intervention were paid into court by former clients of the defendant solicitor. The Law Society claimed that such sums fell to be paid out to it since they were vested in it on the statutory trust, and it had not yet exercised its statutory power to determine the beneficial entitlements in the sums. The defendant solicitor claimed that the sums fell to be paid out to him, since the Law Society’s rights in respect of the sums had been released by the terms of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (the IVA) entered into by him, alternatively upon the basis that he was beneficially entitled to the sums under the statutory trust,
The Master held that the sums should be paid out to the defendant solicitor; the Law Society appealed, with permission given by Nugee J.
The Law Society’s rights in respect of the sums had not been released by the terms of the IVA. Nonetheless, it was not, as the Law Society claimed, inappropriate for the Court to consider who would be entitled to the sums under the statutory trust and to order payment out upon that basis; upon the basis of the evidence adduced, the Court held that only the defendant solicitor could be determined to be so entitled.