The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has made no costs orders in the Baker McKenzie case, in which respondents applied for £3m from the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
The tribunal told parties this afternoon that no orders as to costs would be made in relation to Baker McKenzie LLP, former partner Thomas Cassels and former HR director Martin Blackburn. Together they had applied for around £3m, with Cassels alone claiming over £1.6m.
The SRA’s own cost application - seeking money from Baker Mckenzie - was also rejected. Gary Senior will pay £48,000 in fixed costs to the SRA on top of a £55,000 fine for serious professional misconduct.
The tribunal chair said the case had been a ‘long haul from beginning to end’ and thanked the advocates for their assistance.
This morning, the SRA defended its high profile prosecution, contending that the allegations in all cases were properly brought, properly maintained and clearly in the public interest.
Andrew Tabachnik QC, for the SRA, added that Cassels' and Blackburn's costs applications had been advanced by insurers and ‘there is no suggestion of financial hardship by the firm, or by the the individual respondents, or by the insurers’.
The respondents’ advocates argued that some of the SRA’s allegations had not been properly brought, were doomed to fail and contained factual errors. Jonathan Laidlaw QC, for ex-HR director Martin Blackburn, said his client had been ‘unreasonably pursued’ by the SRA and was ‘completely vindicated’ by the tribunal’s judgment.
Last week the tribunal found that Senior committed serious professional misconduct when he attempted to kiss and embrace a junior colleague in 2012. It also found that Senior improperly sought, by reason of his position of seniority within the firm, to influence the investigation.
All allegations against the firm, former partner Thomas Cassels and former HR director Martin Blackburn were found not proved. They were accused by the SRA of allowing Senior to improperly influence or seek to influence the investigation by reason of his position of seniority within the firm.