The Solicitors Regulation Authority will recover less than 30% of the legal costs it racked up during its prosecution of City firm Baker McKenzie and three former executives, the Gazette has learned.
According to a document published under the regulator’s transparency code, the SRA spent £175,000 prosecuting former London managing partner Gary Senior, former partner Thomas Cassels, former HR director Martin Blackburn, and the firm itself.
The fixed fee costs include counsel fees and disbursements, but exclude VAT.
Senior, who was found to have committed professional misconduct after attempting to hug and kiss a junior fee earner, agreed to pay £48,000 in fixed costs to the SRA, in addtion to a £55,000 fine. This leaves the regulator with a £127,000 legal bill.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal made no costs orders in the case – in which three of the four respondents were cleared of wrongdoing – rejecting an application from the parties for £3m from the SRA. The SRA’s own cost application seeking money from Baker McKenzie was also refused.
In its 113-page judgment, the tribunal found that the regulator had been right to prosecute the respondents, even though only Senior was found to have committed misconduct. It said the regulator had ‘plainly not acted unreasonably in bringing or continuing with the case’ against Cassels, and that Blackburn had ‘made mistakes and misjudgements’. It ruled that the case had not been over-prosecuted.