The Solicitors Regulation Authority will seek to recover almost £723,000 in costs from disgraced former solicitor Phil Shiner, the newly published 78-page judgment of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal reveals. However it is almost certain that the profession will end up footing the bill.
Shiner, former director of Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers, was struck off for a string of charges including dishonesty and a lack of integrity in how he handled the claims of Iraqi civilians against the British government. The human rights campaigner had made unlawful payments to a third party to secure claims and then lied when regulators sought to look into how cases were acquired.
At the end of the hearing in February the SDT made an interim costs order of £250,000, but the written judgment reveals the SRA will apply for almost three times that figure. The final costs bill is set to be decided at a detailed assessment.
An SRA spokesperson said: ‘This has been a highly detailed and complex case and our costs reflect both the volume and length of the investigation and prosecution over two years.
‘Professor Shiner finally made only partial admissions in December 2016, and continued to deny dishonesty until that was proved at the SDT.’
Irrespective of the amount charged to Shiner, it is unlikely he will be able to pay it back in full, having been declared bankrupt earlier this month. In those circumstances, the profession would have to meet the unpaid costs.
According to Land Registry documents, Shiner sold his Birmingham home in January this year to his daughters Bethany and Leisha for £300,000.
The property website Zoopla states the property was bought in 2012 for £320,000 and is valued today at £396,000.
The judgment outlines the SDT’s reasons for striking off Shiner, a solicitor who had been on the roll for more than 25 years.
The tribunal said Shiner had caused harm to individuals and to the reputation of the profession in general, with his ‘serious disregard’ for professional obligations meaning that soldiers suffered from the consequences of lies against them.
His motivation, said the tribunal, had been to secure clients and high-profile cases, which brought reputational and financial reward.
The judgment added: ‘In order to ensure that nothing got in the way of that, [Shiner] had been willing to disregard his professional obligations, in some cases dishonestly.
‘His actions were planned and continued over a number of years. He had direct control and responsibility for the circumstances giving rise to the misconduct.’
The tribunal said that, aside from making admissions to some allegations, Shiner had not demonstrated any further insight into his wrongdoing.
‘The misconduct was at the highest level and the only appropriate sanctions was a strike-off. The protection of the public and of the reputation of the profession demanded nothing less.’