With regard to the lawyer Helge Wesenberg from Bergen, I was
very annoyed still that no answers had been forthcoming from him, which I had
employed Karsten Gjone to obtain. Clearly Gjone wasn’t going to bother,
so on 23rd August 1998, I put in a complaint against Helge Wesenberg to the
Lawyers Disciplinary Tribunal in Bergen. They had told me on the telephone that
there was a six-month time limit, so as Wesenberg had last written to me in
1995, I was well outside the time limit. As usual there was a discretion for
the Tribunal to hear my complaint out of time. My heads of complaint were:-
1. The refusal of Wesenberg to send me any details of the serious allegation of attempted rape, on the grounds that the Bergen police may re-open the case. I’d made it clear to Wesenberg in 1995 that I didn’t attempt to rape her and asked him to look into it. He refused as has been seen.
2. Wesenberg’s excuse to me that he was too busy to represent me (his letter of June 9th 1995) only for him to tell me his real reasons on July 17th 1995 and October 26th 1995.
3. Wesenberg’s complete silence on Heidi Schøne’s past (as told by me), including the fact she’d been in a psychiatric unit and his absence of .comment on her letters to me which clearly contradicted the newspaper assertions of continuous harassment and sex terror.
4. Wesenberg’s failure to comment on the fact that the Bergen police in 1990 did not mention a thing to my London lawyer about the attempted rape allegation made to the police station in 1986 by Heidi.
5. I also wanted Wesenberg’s comments on the supposed letter I’d written threatening to kill Heidi’s two year old son, which letter was supposed to .have been given to the Bergen police, whose files he’d examined.
6. Importantly, I wanted to know why Wesenberg failed to comment on my London lawyer’s letter to Krogvold at Bergen police regarding police .comments that I faced (in theory) a prison sentence regarding the police’s unspecified allegations.
On October 19th 1998, Attorney Tor Hauer, Chairman of the Disciplinary Tribunal,
made his decision which was that I was outside the six month time limit, in
order to succeed in my complaint being considered. Further, the Tribunal stated: “Section 5(2) of the procedural rules lays down that the Disciplinary
Committee, even though a deadline has been exceeded, may consider the complaint
under consideration is deemed to be reasonable for special reasons. The Disciplinary
Committee does not find that there are special reasons in favour of considering
the case on its merits. Emphasis has also been placed on the fact that the deadline
has ....been exceeded considerably. The complaint
is accordingly rejected.” However, I had three weeks in which to appeal
the decision and on 23rd October 1998 I sent in my appeal arguing that my case
should be looked into as it did have special merits particularly as Heidi Schøne’s
allegation had been changed from “attempted rape” to “actual
rape”. My appeal was now to be considered by District Judge Knut Glad,
President of the Disciplinary Tribunal, who I was told on 16th November would
give “a decision on whether the case should be considered on its merits”.
On the 29th April 1999, the Disciplinary Tribunal wrote to me with a full translation of Judge Knut Glad’s decision, which is reproduced here:-
THE DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE
has on 28th April 1999
dealt with Appeal No: D105.98 Professional Ethics
Complainant: xxxx xxxx
Respondent: Helge Wesenberg, Attorney at Law
Participated in the proceedings: District Court Justice Knut Glad
The Disciplinary Committee announced the following:
On 23rd August xxxx xxxx complained to the Norwegian Bar Association about the conduct of Attorney Helge Wesenberg in a case he had undertaken for him.
The Complainant is resident in England.
Briefly told, he engaged the attorney to conduct investigations directed against a woman acquaintance of Complainant who lived in Norway. According to the Complainant, the said woman had directed against him serious and untruthful accusations of assault.
The Disciplinary Subcommitee for Aust-Agder, Vest - Agder, Stavanger and Haugesund districts of the Norwegian Bar Association pronounced on 19th October 1998, through the President of the Subcommittee alone, a resolution with the following conclusion:
“The complaint is dismissed”
The grounds for the dismissal of the complaint was that it had been presented more than six months after the Complainant became – or ought to have become aware of the circumstances of the complaint. The complaint period was exceeded and the Subcommittee did not see any special reason for nevertheless dealing with the complaint.
The Complainant, on 23 October 1998, appealed from the Subcommittee’s
decision to the Disciplinary Committee. He referred to the problems that had
been caused to him by the necessity of having to engage a new attorney, after
Respondent refused to continue handling his case. He claimed that Respondent
had cooperated in a cover-up and thus shamefully prevented Complainant from
getting full information of importance to his contestation of the said woman’s
accusations against him of assault.
The case appears before the Committee essentially as before the Subcommittee.
By letter of 16 November 1998 from the secretariat of the Disciplinary Subcommittee, the parties were informed that the case had been forwarded to the president of the Disciplinary Committee for consideration of the dismissal on the ground that the period allowed for complaint had been exceeded.
The Disciplinary Committee has come to the same result as the Disciplinary Subcommittee, but on somewhat different grounds.
The Attorneys Regulations provide in § 5-4 that when three years have elapsed from the date on which a complainant became – or ought to have become – aware of the circumstances on which the complaint is based, a complaint can no longer be presented. This is an unconditional rule which prevents the Disciplinary Committee from dealing with a complaint, even if the facts of the case might have made it reasonable to consider it.
Respondent declined to continue handling the case for Complainant by letter dated 9th June 1995. The reason he gave was lack of time. After renewed application from Complainant, Respondent declared by letter of 17th July 1995 that he was no longer willing to represent Complainant because the latter failed to accept the advice he was given by the attorney.
The period for filing complaint must be regarded as having begun at the latest when Complainant received this letter. His complaint against the attorney was filed only by letter of 28 August 1998, i.e. after the absolute period for complaint had expired.
The complaint is accordingly dismissed.
The decision has been adopted by the President of the Disciplinary Committee alone pursuant to § 5-5 (1), see § 5-4, of the Attorneys Regulations.
The decision by the Disciplinary Subcommittee is upheld.
You will see then, that in fact I was only 6 weeks out of time according to the Judge, which on the face of it was very bad luck. The Judge made my receipt of the letter of 17th July 1995 from Wesenberg the point from which the three year time limit ran.
I sent a fax on 4th May 1999 to Bodil Ekrem, Administration secretary of the Disciplinary Tribunal:-
Thank you for your letter of 29.04.99 with enclosures.
The attached copy letter from Helge Wesenberg is dated 7.11.95. This was the last letter I received from him before I made my complaint. Negotiations by me were continuing up to this time to try and resolve the matter with Wesenberg.
Surely, by the Attorney’s Regulations in § 5-4 the three year period in which to make a complaint runs from Nov. 7th 1995 – in which case my complaint should be heard?
Is it not right that I should make every effort to resolve a dispute with the attorney himself, first, before making a complaint? Only once it was absolutely clear that Wesenberg would not co-operate should the time limit run. Am I right?
The next morning I was told there was nothing I could do when I phoned the Tribunal offices. So I wrote to the Judicial Secretary, on 5th May:-
Dear Mr. Wishman,
I refer to Bodil Ekrem’s letter to me of 29.04.99 and my reply of 4.05.99. In England a time limit would run from the date of the last letter from the lawyer in a series of correspondence. I believe it is quite incorrect for the letter of 17th July 1995 to be taken as the three year time limit commencement date. Did the Judge actually see copies of my letters of 26.10.95 and 7.11.95? If so, how could he possibly conclude that it was the letter of 17th July 1995 from which the time limit ran? I mean no disrespect to the Judge but there must be a mistake on this. Bodil Ekrem told me on the phone today there is nothing more I could do, but how can this be? If the Judge has unwittingly made a mistake then that is something I wish to remedy.
Please help me on this point and confirm that you understand my argument.
I received Mr. Wishman’s rather bland reply in his letter of 11th May 1999:-
COMPLAINT CONCERNING PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: xxxx xxxx and
ADVOKAT HELGE WESENBERG
We refer to your letter of 05.05.99.
In resolution of 28.04.99 The Disciplinary Committee upheld the decision made by the Disiplinary Subcommittee that says that your complaint is dismissed. The decisions made by the Disciplinary Committee are not subject to appeal. I refer to the courts of law act § 227. This means that you have to bring the decision in for a Court of Law.
I am sorry to inform you that we no longer can help you.
If you refer to Wesenberg’s letter of 26th October 1995, you can see that he offers further advice on why he will not represent me. Advice which he was telling me for the first time. I was still not satisfied with his unsubstantiated explanation so he wrote again on 7th November 1995. It surely was arguable that either of these later letters should be taken as the starting point from which the three year time limit should run.