A solicitor has accepted a fine and rebuke from his regulator after wrongly disclosing documents to a journalist. Dino Novicelli, of London firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, was acting for two clients in relation to historical sex abuse cases, and met with the national newspaper journalist in September 2017 about a potential article.
Novicelli had permission from his clients to speak with the reporter to discuss their case. But, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, at the meeting he also showed a copy of a document that had been disclosed to him under-pre-action disclosure protocol.
The newspaper then published an article that referred to this document in general terms. The respondents deduced that information in the article must have come from the document disclosed to Novicelli and contacted the firm to ask for an explanation. He apologised for showing the document and acknowledged he should not have done so.
According to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the SRA, Novicelli admitted that he breached two principles.
The regulator noted that his conduct had the potential to cause loss or significant inconvenience to another person and that his conduct was neither trivial nor inadvertent.
The SRA took into account admissions made by the solicitor and his mitigation, namely that there were no negative consequences for any of the parties, he did not benefit from his actions, and he mistakenly believed he was able to disclose the document to the journalist.
Novicelli, a solicitor for almost nine years, said he had undertaken training to improve his understanding of his responsibilities with regards to disclosure and interacting with journalists.
He was fined £2,000 – the maximum fine the SRA can issue without referring the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal – and ordered to pay £600 costs.