Medical evidence provided by solicitor-advocate Alan Blacker in his bid for a fresh hearing into his case was insufficiently detailed and unconvincing, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has said.
Publishing a memorandum today of its decision in relation to the rehearing application, the tribunal said it would not be just to order a rehearing.
Blacker, who also goes under the name Lord Harley, was banned from the profession in July after a string of accountancy and dishonesty allegations were proven against him.
Earlier this month he lost his bid to have a rehearing and have the matter transferred to Manchester or Rochdale.
Goldsmith Chambers’ Anton van Dellen, representing Blacker at the September hearing, told the tribunal that Blacker was unable to travel to London or would be at risk if he attempted to do so because of his disability.
Van Dellen submitted that the tribunal’s refusal to transfer the matter to Manchester had placed Blacker at a disadvantage as it meant he could not be present at July’s hearing.
The tribunal was required to consider reasonable adjustments at the point at which it was on notice of Blacker’s disability, van Dellen added.
However, the regulator questioned why medical evidence had not been presented to the tribunal before July, and said that no answer to that question had been forthcoming from Blacker.
The memorandum highlighted that, in November last year, the tribunal ‘had made clear to the applicant that if he produced appropriate medical evidence and consented to its disclosure to the SRA, he was at liberty to apply for the matter to be transferred to the Manchester or Rochdale area’.
The tribunal’s directions on that occasion and at subsequent case management hearings were ‘unambiguous and left no room for misunderstanding’, the memorandum states.
The tribunal said there was no explanation contained in the application for rehearing and none had been advanced by Dr van Dellen in the course of his oral submissions.
Medical evidence was discussed in a closed session lasting more than 30 minutes.
In its memorandum, the tribunal said that ‘three of the four letters now presented by way of medical evidence for the purposes of this application were in the applicant’s possession before the substantive hearing, in one instance as early as September 2015’.
The medical evidence that had now been provided was ‘insufficiently detailed and unconvincing’, the tribunal added.
‘It would not be just to order a rehearing in those circumstances. The applicant was responsible for the fact that there was no medical evidence before the tribunal in July 2016 and it would send entirely the wrong message to the profession if a rehearing was ordered.’
Ruling against a rehearing, the tribunal had ordered Blacker to pay £7,500 costs of the SRA’s response to the rehearing application.
As the Gazette reported, the order was made following a debate between counsel about the costs schedule. The total costs claimed by the regulator had been £9,112.90.
The tribunal said there was no need for the regulator’s solicitor, Capsticks’ Daniel Purcell, to have attended a hearing such as this, ‘particularly in view of the fact that [Edward Levey, counsel for the SRA] had presented the respondent’s case at the substantive hearing and was therefore fully familiar with it’.
The costs were ‘on the high side overall’, the tribunal said, determining that £7,500 was a fair and proportionate amount.