Immigration solicitors will face disciplinary action if they fail to reveal ‘all material facts’ when applying to prevent removals, the president of the Queen’s Bench Division warned, naming three firms who had not to complied with disclosure duties.
In a judgment last week Sir John Thomas warned that solicitors must disclose everything, including facts that go against their case, when making ex parte applications to the High Court to prevent the removal of failed asylum seekers. He named three firms whose solicitors, he said, were responsible for ‘very grave failures’ to comply with their duty to make full disclosure to the court.
The three involved were London firms Dylan Conrad Kreolle, S Satha & Co and MQ Hassan Solicitors. All firms apologised and the court accepted their apologies without taking further action. Contacted by the Gazette, a spokesman for S Satha & Co said it had made an administrative error.
In a statement on Wednesday, Victor Nwosu of Dylan Conrad Kreolle Solicitors denied failing to disclose and said Thomas's comments had ‘come as an absolute shock'. Nwosu said he had ‘disclosed all relevant documents in the substantive judicial review application’. MQ Hassan did not respond to requests for comment.
But Thomas warned: ‘That will be the last time this court will, unless there are strong mitigating circumstances, fail to refer people to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a breach of these very high duties to the court.’
The naming follows a warning in a previous case, in which Thomas pledged to ‘take the most vigorous action’ against firms that lodged last minute ‘meritless’ applications without complying with procedures.
In that case, Thomas said the administrative court faced an ‘ever-increasing large volume’ of such applications which he said were an ‘intolerable waste of public money’ and put ‘great strain’ on the court.
Speaking at the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates’ conference, Thomas said: ‘There has been a complete failure of the profession to comply with fundamental standards… a failure to honour the duty that when you make an ex parte application, it is your duty to draw to the attention of the judge the things that are against you.
‘I hoped a warning would work. It didn’t.’