The High Court today dismissed solicitor-advocate Alan Blacker’s latest attempt to overturn the decision to strike him off. Following a one-day hearing, Mr Justice William Davis said the tribunal had acted correctly in going ahead with last July’s proceedings in Blacker’s absence.
Davis noted that the tribunal had acted within its judicial functions in rejecting Blacker’s plea to move the tribunal hearing to Manchester, nearer to his Rochdale home.
The judge also supported the SDT’s order to make Blacker pay £86,000 in prosecution costs, saying the controversial lawyer had failed to respond to requests for a statement of means and was warned a summary assessment would be made.
Blacker, who also goes under the name Lord Harley, was struck off after the SDT found a number of allegations proven, including that he had been dishonest about his qualifications and accreditations.
Blacker’s counsel, Dr Anton van Dellen, today attempted to argue that a litany of medical complaints, including heart and lung problems, had prevented his client from making the journey to London to put forward his case.
While Blacker had submitted some evidence for these complaints to the tribunal, he refused permission to disclose them to the SRA, the other party in proceedings.
In an oral summary lasting almost an hour, Davis said the notion that the tribunal should accept evidence not submitted to all parties was ‘wholly erroneous’.
‘There would be no possible basis upon which the tribunal could act on any of the three reasons given for [Blacker] failing to attend [the July hearing],’ said Davis.
‘His failure to attend was entirely voluntary. Of course he was at a disadvantage by not being there to answer serious allegations but that was of his own doing and his alone.’
The court heard that Blacker has yet to pay a penny of the £86,000 costs imposed against him to cover SRA expenses. He also owes a further £7,500 to cover the costs of an attempt to secure a re-hearing in September.
Van Dellen had argued that the SDT should consider reducing costs where someone is losing their livelihood.
But Davis said the tribunal’s approach had been correct and that Blacker had given no indication of his means when prompted. ‘The reality is that this tribunal was in a position properly to assess costs summarily and it did so,’ said the judge.
Davis ordered that Blacker pay the full costs of today’s hearing, coming to a further £15,237. Van Dellen added that he expected there to be no further appeal.