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Please note that text in red denotes my comments

From the Lord Chancellor's Department dated 2/3/1984.

Dear Mrs Wright

Upon receiving your letter of 27 February I obtained a full report on the progress which has been made in the review of your brother's affairs during successive hearings before the Honourable Mr Justice MacDermott. Although you have been separately represented by your own solicitor and junior counsel throughout these proceedings and have also had the opportunity to be advised by senior counsel it may be helpful if I begin by summarising recent events.

2. As you know, the Official Solicitor issued a Summons last September which led to the present review. At the conclusion of the first hearing on 24 October the Judge made an Order in which, inter alia, he diercted that all parties with an interest in the case should make written submissions to the Official Solicitor not later than 7 November. Your solicitor made a submission on your instructions setting out a number of general questions about which you had expressed your concern.

3. At a further hearing on 2 December the Official Solicitor made an interim report, in the form of a detailed note, upon several features of the case about which he had already made enquiries. He also indicated to the Judge that in addition to issues involving the valuation of properties about which he wished to be separately advised he also anticipated that there were several aspects of the case, including prospective proceedings against other parties, in connection with which he wished to take the opinion of senior counsel. The Judge granted both these requests in a second interim Order made upon the conclusion of that hearing. The comprehensive report prepared by the Official Solicitor dated 30 January was duly delivered to your solicitor and the representatives of other parties together with a copy of the report and valuation obtained from Mr Deane, the independent valuer engaged by Mr Hall. Although the case was originally re-listed for consideration on Monday 13 February a further short adjournment was granted by the Judge to enable Messrs James Boston & Sullivan and their clients, your brother Mr W J Andrews and your sister Mrs Vera Douglas, to re-consider their submission in regard to the alleged under-value of the Patient's former dwellinghouse at 14 Castlehill Road in the light of Mr Deane's report and valuation.

4. The only issue which was contested at last Freiay's hearing was that of the valuation of 14 Castlehill Road. The Official Solicitor's conclusion in regard to the sale of that property is clearly expressed in paragraph 9 of his report.
The engagement of Mr Kerr QC and Mr Martin to appear at the hearing and the submission of detailed evidence by Mr Deane was rendered necessary by the persistence of Mr W J Andrews and Mrs Douglas in pursuing their submission.
In the event the Judge found in favour of the conclusion originally reached by Mr Hall and his counsel. I enclose for your reference a copy of the reserved judgment of Mr Justice MacDermott. It deserves careful study.
If, as you have suggested, this judgment constitutes a total miscarriage of justice you may, of course, take the advice of your own legal representatives and lodge an appeal against the finding but you will wish to reflect upon the Judge's concluding remarks in regard to the question of costs.

5. With regard to your criticism of the general conduct of the Patient's affairs by Mr Hall in the three months since he assumed full responsibility for them I am bound to say that I consider it very significant that in proceedings where no fewer than seven other separate interests were represented not a single submission was made during the last hearing against the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Official Solicitor's report, apart from the disputed valuation.

6. You will appreciate that it is not possible for the Lord Chancellor to comment upon the merits of individual cases. On the other hand he is bound to ensure that all aspects of a case are thoroughly examined by the appropriate Court. In your brother's case it is clear that such an examination has been conducted and that the final outcome has almost been reached. If you are still dissatisfied I can only suggest that you take further advice from your own professional representatives. May I also suggest, respectfully, that you should in future take advice before using expressions such as "unprofessional conduct".

You may not regard this letter as particularly helpful but I assure you that it is intended to be so.

Yours sincerely

J M STEELE.


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