The High Court has resisted attempts from two solicitors each struck off in the past year by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to have their decisions overturned.
In Lindsay v Solicitors Regulation Authority, Mrs Justice Lang rejected the pleas of solicitor Andrew Lindsay that the tribunal should have postponed proceedings due to his serious heart problems and other medical conditions.
In the event, the unrepresented Lindsay was struck off in his absence for obtaining £5.9m from investment fund Axiom where it was improper to do so, leading to substantial financial losses. Lindsay, managing director and majority shareholder of north west firm Tandem XJA Limited, was also found to have failed to cooperate with the SRA investigation and given false and misleading responses.
The solicitor, who was also ordered to pay £108,000 in costs, appealed the findings and sanctions, saying the proceedings were ‘procedurally unfair’ as the tribunal refused an application to adjourn the case and proceeded without him last November.
The judge ruled Lindsay unreasonably refused to comply with a direction to be assessed by an independent consultant psychiatrist.
Despite experiencing his latest symptoms at least a week before his proposed hearing date, he saw a GP only on day one of the hearing, then never attempted to attend on later days. ‘He was kept informed of the progress of the hearing,’ said the judge. ‘In my view, it was never his intention to attend the hearing.’
Meanwhile, in Hayes v Solicitors Regulation Authority, solicitor Christopher Hayes failed to have his ban overturned in the High Court, despite arguing that the tribunal had misconstrued the scope of a contract he held with a former client, the disgraced ex-UKIP MEP Ashley Mote.
Mote was convicted in 2015 of fraudulently claiming £400,000 in expenses and was later jailed for six years.
Last July, Hayes was cleared on three charges by the SDT but found to have allowed his former firm, south east practice Edward Hayes Solicitors, to use money which he knew or suspected was not authorised by the European Parliament.
Hayes, 52 this month, was not found to be dishonest and he argued the allegation which succeeded was ‘unclear and legally incoherent’.
Lord Justice Hickinbottom said the tribunal ‘asked itself the right questions and was entitled to make the findings and the conclusions that it made’. The judge said the scope of the contract to transfer funds was ‘unarguably and unambiguously clear’ and that Hayes was well aware of its function.