The High Court has upheld a decision to strike out a solicitor’s appeal against a negligence claim made against her in a landlord-tenancy case.
Sole practitioner Nancy Ballard, from Essex firm Davis Solicitors LLP, was ordered to pay former clients £21,613 in costs and damages for losses incurred by her handling of their case.
She sought permission to appeal against that order, and was told by Judge Wulwick to serve a skeleton argument and appeal bundle by 17 March 2014.
When she failed to lodge the appeal bundle as required, the former clients' solicitors from Romford firm North Ford Solicitors wrote to the judge and the appeal was struck out.
In an appeal against the subsequent refusal of relief from sanctions, Ballard accused the defendants of being ‘opportunistic’ in highlighting her non-compliance to the court.
But the Honourable Mr Justice Supperstone said the solicitor showed a ‘continuing lack of understanding of the importance of the rules’.
The court heard Ballard had given a ‘fluid’ set of reasons for not complying with the judge’s order.
At first she refused to accept having breached the practice direction and claimed the bundle was lodged on 31 December 2013.
She later said she considered it ‘unnecessary’ to file an appeal bundle unless permission to appeal had been granted.
Even when she appeared before His Honour Justice Mitchell to ask for relief from sanctions, Supperstone said she still had not lodged the appeal bundle.
‘The fact is that Ms Ballard had deliberately decided not to comply with the practice direction and the ‘unless’ order because she considered that what she had done in terms of filing and serving documents for the appeal was sufficient.’