UK High Court calls for Law Society president to undergo full disciplinary tribunal hearing

The ruling overturns a 2019 decision to dismiss the private prosecution case brought by a former client

UK High Court calls for Law Society president to undergo full disciplinary tribunal hearing

The UK High Court has called for Law Society President David Greene to undergo a full hearing with the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in relation to a private prosecution case brought by Greene’s ex-client David Davies.

The Law Society Gazette reported that in the initial costs-related case decided in 2016, a court awarded Edwin Coe, the firm Greene represented, with £7,218. Davies contested the judgment on the grounds that the court had been misled by the evidence Greene provided, and proceeded to file a complaint with the SDT. The Gazette said that the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the body that typically brings prosecutions before the SDT, had not pursued the matter even though it took into consideration the claims raised by Davies.

In September 2019, the SDT ruled to strike out Davies’ application in a move supported by Greene’s representatives. In his submission to the High Court, Davies challenged the decision, citing “abuse of process and procedural irregularity” by the tribunal, the Gazette said.

In a ruling announced yesterday, appeal judges Lord Justice Andrew Popplewell and Mr Justice Neil Garnham called for the SDT’s decision to be overturned.

“In our judgment, it is at least arguable that the disparity between what Mr Greene said in evidence and the position revealed by the correspondence is capable of supporting a case that the former was not only misleading but deliberately so,” the judges said.

Although Popplewell and Garnham were not suggesting that Greene had not behaved appropriately, they said that the SDT also failed to consider Davies’ evidence in detail, choosing to rest its case on the initial 2016 ruling. If the tribunal had, they would have “have been bound to find there was a case to answer,” the Gazette said.

Edwin Coe said a statement that it was seeking permission to appeal the High Court ruling, emphasising that the decision did not confirm any wrongdoing on Greene’s part.

“This case is a private prosecution brought by a former client in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The underlying events happened some 10 years ago. Since then Mr Davies’ allegations have been considered both by the court in civil proceedings, by the SRA and by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. All have found nothing in Mr Davies’ allegations,” the firm said. “Although this court as a preliminary issue has now referred the matter back to the tribunal for a full hearing, it has done so without considering any evidence from Mr Greene.”

Greene also issued a strong statement of denial against Davies’ claims.

“I absolutely deny the allegations of Mr Davies and after I am given the opportunity to put in evidence, I fully expect the tribunal to dismiss these claims as all courts and the tribunal itself have done previously,” he said.

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