A former senior partner at Southport firm Barnetts has failed to challenge a decision to strike him off the roll. The High Court also ruled that the Solicitors Regulation Authority should not return costs awarded against him to help him fight the appeal.
Richard Barnett, a former Law Society Council member, was struck off last July in connection with a conflict of interest over advice to a litigation funder and the misuse of funds.
At the time the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that Barnett had spent over £4.8 million of litigation funding from the now-collapsed Axiom Legal Financing Fund to clear the firm’s overdraft with RBS and to fund the firm’s overheads.
Appealling against the decision, Barnett said the SDT had reached the wrong conclusion, had approached the case with a ‘closed mind’ and had based its ruling on insufficient evidence.
He also applied to get the court to order the SRA to return £30,000 of the £115,000 costs he was ordered to pay.
But, sitting in the High Court, Mr Justice Garnham said that Barnett was ‘substantially out of time’ to appeal the £115,000 cost order and had not provided an adequate explanation of why he should be entitled to avoid the consequences of an order he had agreed to at the time.
He found that the tribunal had reached its conclusions after close consideration of all the evidence, and not as a result of a closed mind. Garnham also said Barnett’s argument amounted to ‘no more than disagreement with the tribunal’s conclusion’.
He dismissed the appeal, saying there was no serious or procedural irregularity in the SDT’s ruling. He also said the arguments advanced by Barnett did not justify the court interfering with the decision.