A High Court judge has made a recommendation to the attorney general that a struck off solicitor be declared a vexatious litigant following almost two decades of litigation against the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

A civil restraint order (CRO) and a warrant against Michael Otobo were also extended for three years and two years respectively.

Otobo, who was struck off in 2009, did not appear at the Royal Courts of Justice and was not represented at the application hearing before Mr Justice Sweeting.

The court heard Otobo brought ‘numerous unsuccessful claims and applications against the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority complaining about regulatory action taken against him’ by the SRA. His litigation has been characterised as ‘wicked’ by the divisional court. 

A warrant for Otobo’s arrest was made after he was found in contempt in 2022 for using confidential documents which had been disclosed to him during a county court discrimination claim. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Adam Solomon KC, for the SRA, described Otobo’s actions as an ‘unfortunate obsession with the SRA and the Law Society and its legal representatives [which] continues unabated’. He said: ‘All of this relates to historic matters. The [employment appeal tribunal] appeal is not only out of time but an abuse in itself.’

He told the court the civil restraint order would mean 'imposing a filter protecting the Law Society and the SRA from being vexed from claims'.

Solomon added: ‘The penny will not drop on Mr Otobo. He cannot litigate because he cannot ever come back here because he is in contempt. By doing this for 20 years or so, still making the same points that he made 20 years or so ago, that he has been discriminated against, that the SRA are fraudulent, that the SRA legal team is fraudulent, is getting worse.’

Asking for an indeterminate civil restraint order, which was refused, Solomon said: ‘The question I am asking Your Lordship today is “what happens after three years?”. After three years, the gates open again and he would run through.’

Mr Justice Sweeting said: ‘The last [2022] order provided restraint from any claim in any employment tribunal, any SDT, any county court or high court, without obtaining permission. The order did not expressly refer to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, [at the time] there was at least one extant claim in the [EAT].’

He said Otobo ‘remains in contempt’ and ‘continues to litigate’.

The judge added: ‘It is evident that Mr Otobo has turned his fire on legal professionals, amongst others, making unfounded and disgraceful allegations of fraud and dishonesty. The SRA says it is hopeless, weak and disgraceful litigation. Mr Otobo has himself set out in his many applications and voluminous correspondence his ongoing commitment to litigate by pursuing his appeal in the [EAT]. The application to the employment appeal tribunal is totally without merit.’

Extending the CRO, the judge said: ‘One hopes if that avenue [of the EAT] is cut off, he will have nowhere to go but to comply with the order.

The judge added: ‘I have been asked to make a recommendation to the attorney general to exercise her powers to designate Mr Otobo as a vexatious litigant. That recommendation was also made by His Honour Judge Shanks following the contempt hearing.

‘It is plainly appropriate to make it then and plainly appropriate to make it now as [the recommendation] has not been acted on so far by the attorney general. It may be under consideration, I very much hope it will be considered shortly.’

Otobo was also ordered to pay costs of £12,846.22. Solomon said: ‘No costs order has ever been paid. Historic costs have been written off.’