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Mostyn J joins debate on SRA Lack of Integrity test

Mostyn J joins debate on SRA Lack of Integrity test

Two interesting decisions have come from the High Court which offer conflicting views of the definiton of 'Lack of Integrity'. In Newell-Austin v SRA [2017] EWHC 411  on 3rd March 2017, Morris J followed a line of authority that concluded that lack of integrity did not equate to dishonesty and that there is no subjective element.

Today however, in the decision in Malins v [SRA 2017 ] EWHC 835 (Admin) , Mostyn J clearly came to a contrary view and decided that Dishonesty and Lack of Integrity are in effect the same. This is important as Dishonesty carries with it almost automatic strike off, and the courts have recently indicated that 'Lack of Integrity' in practice may have the same result, but is easier to prove as there is no subjective test. 

It is therefore suggested that the full decision of Mostyn J is read - it is available by clicking here. In it, he deals with the case of SRA v Wingate & another which was followed in Newell Austin by saying as follows;

Holman J stated:

"He submitted, and I agree, that dishonesty and lack of integrity are not the same. While all dishonesty involves a lack of integrity, not all lack of integrity involves dishonesty. The law requires a subjective  element to any finding or conclusion of dishonesty, but the question whether a person lacked integrity is objective."

I must respectfully disagree. If this were right, then the SRA could side-step the requirement of proving the subjective element of dishonesty in any case by the simple expedient of charging the same facts as want of integrity. It can be seen from the charges set out above that in this case the SRA has done just that in relation to charges 1 and 2.

Srong stuff indeed. Many observers see that this is part of the campaign that the SRA have been waging to do away with the dual test for dishonesty ( objective/ subjective) and the crimnal burden of proof that they have to satisfy before they can strike off an errant solicitor. 

 

For any advice and assistance for issues like these please do call Jeremy on 0844 2722322 or submit a comment below. Jeremy will come back to you at the earliest convenience.

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