A solicitor appeared for clients in the higher courts for 12 years without ever getting his qualifications formally signed off, a court has heard.
Mr Justice Mostyn told Akindele Ogun he would have to apply for a certificate after it was found he had never got round to doing so when he took advocacy exams back in 2006.
In Ogun, R (On the Application Of) v Solicitors Regulation Authority the claimant issued judicial review proceedings against the Solicitors Regulation Authority after it effectively banned him from exercising higher rights of audience. In doing so, he put in a costs schedule of £36,000, saying he had spent 60 hours on the matter at his normal hourly charging rate of £650.
The judge said Ogun would have been aware he needed to formally apply to the Law Society to be fully qualified, but he made a mistake and now ‘needs to put his house in order’.
The court heard that Ogun was called to the bar in 1985 and admitted as a solicitor 10 years later. In early 2005, he applied to the Law Society for the grant of the Higher Courts (Civil Proceedings) qualification which would entitle a solicitor to exercise rights of audience in all civil proceedings in the higher courts.
He successfully completed the advocacy assessment in August 2006 and wrongly assumed he had been awarded the qualification by an agent of the Law Society, namely BPP.
Following receipt of his certificate from BPP, he regularly appeared for clients in the higher courts until an arbitration appeal heard in the Commercial Court last July. The respondent to that appeal questioned Ogun’s right to appear for his client and raised the matter with the SRA, which prompted an investigation.
Ogun argued in his judicial review appeal that the SRA’s decision was irrational and violated his human rights.
Mostyn J said his case was ‘untenable’ and that the regulations clearly stated that, following the completion of an advocacy course, there needed to be a successful application to the Law Society for qualification.
He added that the litigation appeared ‘completely disproportionate’ given Ogun could have rectified the situation with a two-day £600 advocacy course, a £75 application fee and ‘the cost of postage to the SRA’. Ogun said the matter proceeded to an expensive trial because to him it was 'an issue of high principle'.
The judge awarded the SRA £18,000 in costs, including VAT.