Lawyer copied details of rival law firm’s bid to win £500K public contract. A SOLICITOR from the Edinburgh based law firm Dundas & Wilson has admitted stealing details from rival law firm Brodies LLP in order to win a £500,000 public contract involving five Scottish local authorities who proposed to share services for waste management and recycling.
Lawyer Keith Armstrong (41) who resigned from Dundas & Wilson in July 2012 after representatives of Renfrewshire Council contacted the law firm over the similarity of details contained in competitive bids, admitted in evidence to the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal he stole details from rival law firm Brodies LLP in order to help win the contract.
It transpired from the tribunal hearing that documents which Armstrong had ‘acquired’ came from papers held by his partner, Kate Mayor (36) who was at the time business development manager for Brodies LLP.
As a result of the tribunal hearing, Keith Armstrong has subsequently been struck off the roll of solicitors. He now works for energy giant SSE PLC, (formerly Scottish & Southern Electricity), who were recently fined £10.5m by industry regulator Ofgem for mis-selling gas & electricity contracts
The Scottish Sun reports:
Exclusive: By Russell Findlay 13 July 2014 Scottish Sun
A TOP lawyer stole secret files from a rival in a plot to win a £500,000 contract. Dundas & Wilson partner Keith Armstrong. 41. copied a draft bid belonging to blue chip competitor Brodies.
He admitted swiping the document from under the nose of innocent missus Kate Mayor, 36 - then Brodies business development manager before “fraudulently and deceitfully” using it in his own firm's tender.
A source said yesterday: "For a partner to commit what amounts to industrial espionage is unprecedented. The scandal has rocked the legal establishment."
The Edinburgh companies with combined turnover of £100million were battling for the contract from North Lanarkshire. North Ayrshire. East Dunbartonshire. East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire councils in 2012.
Armstrong was rumbled after officials noticed 27 parts of the two rival bids were identical. He owned up to his bosses and quit before the contract was eventually won by Pinsent Masons.
Armstrong, right, of Edinburgh. was struck off following a probe by the Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal. Chairman Alan McDonald ruled: "His conduct is so grave it is very likely to bring the profession into disrepute."
The divorcee, now working for power giant SSE. last night refused to comment at the £615.000 home he shares with Ms Mayor in Morningside. Brodies also declined to comment.
SSDT REPORT CENSORED IDENTITIES OF LAW FIRM:
Curiously, the opinion published by the SSDT directed that neither Brodies LLP or Mr Armstrong’s current employer Scottish & Southern Energy should be mentioned by name or identified in any way in the report …
Tribunal heard lawyer ‘copied’ terms of bid from competitor. On or around 22 May 2012 a representative of RC (Renfrewshire Council) contacted D&W (Dundas & Wilson), noting that some concern had arisen in respect of certain similarities between the Tenders submitted by D&W and that submitted by another Tenderer. RC had compiled a comparison document setting out the relevant text of concern and by email of 22 May 2012 invited D&W to attend a meeting on 24 May 2012 to discuss matters.
The other Tenderer, namely Firm X (Brodies LLP), was also invited to a similar meeting on that date. D&W immediately commenced an internal investigation. In the course of said investigation the Respondent admitted to D&W that he had been responsible for the text that had been highlighted and that he had plagiarised these from another Tender document for the project belonging to Firm X.
In particular the Respondent accepted that on 28 or 29 April 2012 at his dwelling house, without the permission or consent of his partner, Ms B, who was at the time a Business Development Manager at Firm X, he accessed the Tender as prepared by Firm X for the project, copied parts of said draft Tender and made use of that information when completing D&W’s Tender for the project.
Amstrong was represented at the hearing by William Macreath of the Legal Defence Union & Levy McRae, the Law Society of Scotland was represented by Elaine Motion QC.
Tribunal Decision : The Tribunal having considered the Complaint at the instance of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland on behalf of Firm X against Keith Guy William Armstrong, formerly of Dundas & Wilson, Solicitors, Saltire Court, 20 Castle Terrace, Edinburgh and now c/o Levy McRae Solicitors, 266 St Vincent Street, Glasgow;
Find the Respondent guilty of Professional Misconduct in respect of his having accessed confidential information belonging to another firm of solicitors in relation to a project, having copied and thereafter used part of that firm’s Tender document in his own firm’s Tender and his fraudulently and/or deceitfully having allowed it to be submitted as his own firm’s work bringing his integrity into question;
his actions being deliberate and wholly inconsistent with the requirements to maintain mutual trust and confidence with his fellow solicitors in allowing a Tender to be submitted, part of which had been plagiarised from another firm’s Tender which he knew or ought to have known, was not only confidential but was of a commercially sensitive nature and his actions drawing the profession at large into disrepute;
Strike the Respondent Keith Guy William Armstrong from the Roll of Solicitors in Scotland;
Find the Respondent liable in the expenses of the Complainers and of the Tribunal including expenses of the Clerk, chargeable on a time and line basis as the same may be taxed by the Auditor of the Court of Session on an agent and client, client paying basis in terms of Chapter Three of the last published Law Society’s Table of Fees for general business with a unit rate of £14.00; and Direct that publicity will be given to this decision and that this publicity should include the name of the Respondent but will not include the name of Firm X or the Respondent’s current employer or otherwise identify them.