• Application 11535-2016

• Admitted 2003

• Hearing 6 December 2016

• Reasons 23 January 2017

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £8,000.

The respondent had submitted a notice of acting to the court dated 28 July 2011 on behalf of the defendant (D4) in an industrial disease claim when he had no instructions to act, and for whom his insurer client bore no responsibility nor had any financial interest in, and had thereafter conducted litigation on the matter throughout the period until April 2014. In doing so, he had breached principles 1, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

When aware from (at the latest) January 2014 onwards that he was not instructed to act in relation to D4, the respondent had continued to act in the proceedings without informing his insurer client he was incorrectly on record. In doing so, he had breached principles 4 and 5.

Notwithstanding his awareness that he had no instructions to act for D4 in April 2014, the respondent had agreed the terms of a Tomlin order in relation to that defendant and had submitted it to and/or acquiesced in its ratification by the court. In doing so, he had breached principles 4 and 5.

This was a sad case where the respondent had been the author of his own misfortune but he had not acted from any adverse motive and had not planned what had occurred.

His misconduct related only to one piece of litigation. In the particular circumstances it could not be said that the respondent could reasonably have known what the effects of his actions would be.

The Tribunal’s Guidance Note on Sanctions gave examples of particular matters of personal mitigation which might serve to reduce the nature of the sanction and/or its severity. Those included that the misconduct had arisen at a time when the respondent was affected by physical or mental illness that affected his ability to conduct himself to the standards of the reasonable solicitor. Such mitigation should be, and in the present case was, supported by medical evidence from a suitably qualified practitioner.

The fact that the first allegation, which the respondent had admitted, was not affected by his illness had not been overlooked.

Breach of the principles was a serious matter even where there was significant personal mitigation but there was no real risk to the public of recurrence or to the future reputation of the profession. A fine of £8,000 would be appropriate.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £12,000.