Friday, 19 February 2010
RSPCA VOLOUNTEERS LEAVING IN DROVES
The RSPCA is highly litigious and likes to reward its in-house and out-house lawyers very well for the loyalty which the charity demands. However, even the charity's lazy trustees, who are usually preoccupied with politics, are beginning to ask questions about what happened last week. Two RSPCA High Court cases came to a conclusion - RSPCA v Gill and RSPCA v Mason.
In both matters, its unsupervised, greedy - and uselessly vicious - lawyers got a massive kicking from the High Court bench. In addition to the two huge orders for costs - one of which is on the indemnity basis and the other totals well over £1m - the RSPCA will also have to pays the costs of its own lawyers. That's an awful lot of money - especially now that donations are drying up and the charity's income is in free-fall. Apparently there are not so many sad, ill-informed, pensioners who are prepared to give hundreds of thousands of pounds to the RSPCA in the forlorn hope that the charity will look after their cats and dogs when they die - rather than apply the captive bolt.
In RSPCA v Mason & Others, Mr Justice Peter Smith made an order for indemnity costs worth hundreds of thousands of pounds against the charity to reflect his displeasure at the unreasonable behaviour of the charity (or more precisely its out-of-control £400 an hour lawyers). The RSPCA, through its lawyers, had acted unreasonably in launching "hopeless" litigation against a 85 year old man, and two others in their seventies, which stood no chance of success. After the litigation, the RSPCA was branded "disgusting" by probate specialist Clare Kelly from London lawyers Anthony Gold who acted for 85 year old Mr Mason - who the RSPCA sought to deprive of all but £20,000 of his brother's £1m estate.
In RSPCA v Gill & Others, Deputy High Court Judge James Allen QC made an order that the RSPCA should pay £1.3 million pounds in costs. Again, the judge was highly critical of the RSPCA's refusal to accept Dr Gill's offers to settle, her offers to engage in mediation and engage in reasonable settlement dialogue. The charity's laweysrs had offered Dr Gill just £50,000 of her parents' £2m estate - no doubt they wanted the bulk of the estate to pursue other hopeless litigation with. The case saw Dr Gill's own lawyer, Mark Keenan, have to defend the conduct of his own firm against a web of false allegations spun by the RSPCA's infamous PR Department.
Complaint to the Charities Commission (prop. "Baroness" Suzy Leather) anyone?