- Falsehoods involving trust money and solicitors’ trust accounts can bring the profession into disrepute and damage public confidence.
- Ethics, particularly as applied to trust accounting, must be about something more than a set of rules or pages of legislation. It must include a personal commitment by all solicitors to do what is honest and right by the law, clients, colleagues and the community.
What is this thing we call ethics? Metaphorically, ethics is a double helix, comprising one strand rules and another strand good character; the sequence of bases on one strand determine the sequence of bases on the other. When the strand of good character is missing or impaired, ethics can no longer exist. It is then that rules are broken, legislation is ignored, falsehoods are created, and dishonesty flourishes.
In his Essays published in 1627, Sir Francis Bacon wrote about falsehoods. He espoused that falsehoods bring down, debase or degrade the honour of a person’s nature: ‘It will be acknowledged even by those that practise it not, that clear and round dealing is the honour of man’s nature; and mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver, which may make the metal work the better, but embaseth it’ (Francis Bacon, The Essays, Civil and Moral. ‘Of Truth’, The Harvard Classics, New York 1909).