A RESPECTED Hereford solicitor who admitted an 'ostrich tendency' as two cases dragged on for years was fined £10,000 by a disciplinary tribunal this week.

Nicholas John Mundy, 53, an ex-partner in Caldicott Mundy Solicitors, of Bridge Street, Hereford confessed 'burying his head in the sand' as two disgruntled clients pressed for results.

Mr Mundy appeared before a hearing of the solicitors' disciplinary tribunal, which heard his former premises is now called Mundy Specialist Property Lawyers and he is a Licensing Conveyancer.

Stuart Turner, representing the Law Society, said Mr Mundy had failed to keep a client informed of case progress, failed to act diligently, failed to recommend the client sought a second opinion, failed to tell a client of a conflict of interest and interest on a bill.

The client was pursuing a personal injury claim following an injury while working at a nursing home.

In the second case, a client wanted a divorce in 1991 and the case was complicated by insolvency proceedings against her and her husband and the acrimonious nature of the split.

By May 2000 Mr Mundy was beginning his Licensed Conveyancing Business and told 'Mrs S' to find new lawyers.

He promised to co-operate with the new firm and send on the file. "It seems that nothing was done," said Mr Turner.

Mr Mundy told the hearing he has worked in Herefordshire since qualifying in 1976 and for four years was a committee member with his local law society and also sat on the Criminal Justice Liaison Committee for the area and their mental health sub-committee.

Charitable work

He worked unpaid for a local housing charity which accommodated mental health patients, was a duty solicitor and sat for five years on the Law Society's Children's Panel.

He accepted the first client was entitled to a far higher standard of service. He has since paid her compensation for the delays.

The divorce case became a huge problem file.

"The potential difficulties of delivering files to the other practice was considerable," Mr Mundy explained.

"That said, that's what should have happened and it did not happen.

"The papers simply sat at the end of my office taking up a large space and were not delivered. There was a substantial ostrich tendency on my part in both of these matters, which I regret.

"My experience today has taught me this will never happen again. It is a very painful lesson and I assure you I have learned it."

Committee Chairman John Clitheroe said: "These two cases seem to demonstrate a lamentable failure to act in a way the public expect of a solicitor. Failure to notify a client in one case of a conflict of interests was deplorable.

"Failure to transfer papers in one case and deal with the professional body compounds the complaint."

The tribunal gave Mr Mundy credit for his 'unblemished' professional history and services to public bodies but Mr Clitheroe added these are serious issues.

Mr Mundy was also ordered to pay £3,500 costs.