• Application 11664-2017
  • Hearing 27 November-1 December 2017
  • Reasons 1 February 2018

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1997) should pay a fine of £20,000, and that he should be subject indefinitely to the following conditions: that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; or work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA; with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

The SDT ordered that the second respondent (admitted 1997) should be suspended from practice as a solicitor for 18 months from 1 December 2017 and that, upon the expiry of that term of suspension, he should be subject to the following conditions: that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; or work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA; with liberty to either party to apply to vary those conditions.

The respondents had facilitated the abuse of litigation by bringing or facilitating judicial review claims on behalf of clients, including clients 8-9, in circumstances where they knew or should have known that the claim was not properly arguable and its true purpose was to thwart and/or delay lawful removal and/or procure release from lawful detention, thus breaching principles 1 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcome 5.6 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The second respondent had recklessly failed to warn clients 3 and 5 that any claims they brought would be bound to fail and/or out of time, in breach of principles 2, 4, 5 and 6.

Manifest incompetence by the second respondent had been demonstrated in respect of client 5, thus breaching principles 1, 5 and 6 and failing to achieve outcomes 1.2, 1.4 and 1.5 of the code.

The respondents had failed to take reasonable steps to protect, keep confidential and provide to the SRA client files which were requested by the SRA, thereby breaching principles 7, 8 and 10.

The second respondent had failed adequately to supervise A, an employee of the firm, thus breaching principles 6 and 8 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.6, 7.7 and 7.8 of the code.

The firm’s management system was limited and chaotic. As the COLP and COFA, the first respondent was responsible for that. The absence of proper management within the firm had resulted in a situation whereby the second respondent had not been held in check and clients’ interests had been put at risk.

The appropriate sanction in the first respondent’s case was a fine together with the imposition of restrictions.

The second respondent’s misconduct had arisen from an overzealous desire to help clients that he perceived to be vulnerable. He had put unarguable points before the court and in doing so had wasted his clients’ money and court time.

The appropriate sanction in all the circumstances was a fixed period of suspension followed by the imposition of conditions for an indefinite period.

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £13,014.25. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £39,042.75