The Solicitors Regulation Authority was wrong to use professional conduct rules to pursue a former practitioner for costs, a tribunal has found.
David Bellchamber had been ordered to pay fixed costs adding up to £850 in connection with a 2011 tribunal rebuke and subsequent unsuccessful appeal. He refused to pay, arguing the costs were excessive.
In March the SRA took the matter to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, claiming Bellchamber had failed to comply with the costs issue in an ‘open, timely and co-operative manner’.
However the SDT found that Bellchamber had been ‘entirely open’ in his refusal to pay. The tribunal found the SRA was no different to any other litigant acting as a claimant and should have issued civil proceedings to recover the sum.
An SRA spokesperson said: ‘The cost of delivering sanctions should be borne by those individuals who are disciplined. We are considering the next appropriate steps to recover the profession’s money in light of the SDT’s decision.’