A former client has failed to have the senior partner of a leading London law firm prosecuted over allegations of lying to the court.
David Davies sought the lay prosecution based on submissions by David Greene to the court over a costs dispute several years ago. The case was not pursued by the SRA, despite Davies complaining three times to the regulator, but had been allowed to proceed by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal earlier this year.
Greene is senior partner and head of group action litigation at London firm Edwin Coe. He is also the current vice president of the Law Society, and rose to national prominence by acting in the Article 50 case in 2016.
Greene successfully applied to have the case struck out, based on a judgment coming to light that showed he was wholly exonerated of dishonesty by the court in 2016. Tribunal chair Colin Chesterton attached no blame to Davies for not disclosing the judgment earlier, but said there was now a ‘lack of merit’ in the prosecution and it could not cross the threshold to be certified by the tribunal.
The dispute arose from a contractual arrangement set up to ensure Edwin Coe received £7,000 in unpaid fees. The firm had a retainer with a company named Eco Power, in which Davies was the shareholder and director, but it also claimed to have entered into a second contract with Davies to make sure it got paid. The same district judge found in favour of Edwin Coe in 2012 and again in 2016, when Davies had applied to have the first judgment set aside.
Davies had alleged that Greene, who gave evidence in the 2012 case, had been dishonest in his submissions and attempted to mislead the court. Representing Greene, Ben Hubble QC told the tribunal there was no evidence of misconduct, and indeed the district judge had explicitly cleared Greene of acting dishonestly in his second judgment. Hubble said the courts had dealt with the matters complained of and there was now ‘nothing left’.
He added: ‘This is a classic case of an absolutely collateral attack. We are in Alice in Wonderland. The allegation is of misleading the court in circumstances where a district judge has said [Greene] was not misleading. It is quite wrong for Mr Greene to be vexed by this when the civil courts have dealt with it.’
David Barton, representing Davies, said his client had pursued the matter in spite of the SRA’s reluctance because he believed the SRA regarded him as a vexatious complainant and a ‘matter to be got rid of’. He submitted the tribunal was aware of the facts of the case when it chose to proceed, if not in possession of the final judgment. He denied what was referred to as ‘prosecutorial misconduct’ and said he did not have a copy of the judgment when making the first application to the SDT.
After striking out the claim, the tribunal ordered that Davies pay Greene’s costs of £30,000.