The Law Society has made an official complaint over what it says were ‘inappropriate comments’ by a Crown court judge about the alleged incompetence of three solicitor-advocates.

Chancery Lane has written to Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, the presiding judge of the south-eastern circuit, about remarks made by Judge Gledhill QC in open court at the end of a two-week trial at Southwark Crown Court. Gledhill criticised the performance of three solicitor-advocates and suggested that their firms had chosen to keep the case in-house for financial reasons.

The two firms involved deny the accusations (see [2009] Gazette, 23 April, 1).

A spokesman said: ‘The Law Society is extremely dismayed to read Judge Gledhill’s inappropriate comments about solicitor-advocates, made without giving the advocates concerned any opportunities to comment or respond.

‘Judge Gledhill has acted improperly, and by mishandling the matter has caused substantial harm to the solicitor-advocates concerned. We expect an assurance that this sort of judicial misconduct will not be repeated.’

Des Hudson, the Law Society’s chief executive, said: ‘Any solicitor-advocate inappropriately treated by a judge can be confident of the Society’s full support.’

Gledhill declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the Society of Solicitor Advocates in Scotland held an extraordinary meeting to discuss criticisms made of ­solicitor-advocates in an unsuccessful appeal following a ­murder trial. The consensus was that objective advice should be given at all times to help clients make an in­formed choice of ­representative.