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SRA Update: Courts confirm dishonesty leads to striking off

SRA Update: Courts confirm dishonesty leads to striking off

Two recent separate judgements in the Court of Appeal and the High Court relating to Anthony Dennison and Motihur Rahman respectively show that dishonesty by a solicitor almost invariably leads to striking off.

See SRA Update Issue 24 – May 2012

 

See original SDT decision

Two recent separate judgements in the Court of Appeal and the High Court relating to Anthony Dennison and Motihur Rahman respectively show that dishonesty by a solicitor almost invariably leads to striking off.

In the first case, the SRA had appealed a decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in November 2009 to fine Anthony Dennison £20,000, even though the SDT had found him to have acted dishonestly. The Divisional Court agreed with the SRA and ordered Mr Dennison be struck off. Mr Dennison himself appealed this decision, but the Court of Appeal upheld the Divisional Court's decision in a verdict last month.

In the second case, the High Court struck off Motihur Rahman on an appeal by the SRA, following an SDT decision in December 2010 to suspend Mr Rahman from practice for 12 months.

Executive Director David Middleton explained that it was important to bring the appeals to maintain the principle around dishonesty. He said: "A finding of dishonesty will almost invariably indicate that a solicitor is a substantial risk to the public, and this means they should be struck off. I'm pleased that the Courts confirmed this."

In the case of Dennison, he was fined by the SDT in November 2009 for concealing his financial interest in Legal Report Services (LRS). This acted as an intermediary for obtaining expert evidence in support of claims handled by solicitors on the panel of the (now collapsed) The Accident Group (TAG). The panel included Rowe Cohen, the solicitors' firm Mr Dennison worked for at the time.

The Accident Group collapsed in 2003 and Mr Dennison sold his shares in February 2004, but did not disclose to his former partners at Rowe Cohen, or the SRA, that he had held an interest in LRS until July 2007. It was alleged at the SDT that this behaviour created a conflict between his financial interests on the one hand and his and his firm's duty to clients.

The tribunal found he deliberately kept his interest in LRS secret, that he failed to inform his clients that he had an interest in the company which provided their medical reports, and that he deliberately deceived his partners because he wanted to retain the whole benefit of the interest for himself. The tribunal found he had acted dishonestly.

See original SDT decision

In the case of Rahman, the High Court judgment said the case involved 'serious dishonesty', although it had 'frankly tragic' features. Mr Rahman's employment with law firm Charles Russell was terminated in October 2009, but he was not made redundant. It was found that Mr Rahman created forged documents in the name of the firm to his mortgage company, to support a claim by him that he had been made redundant.

He did this because he believed payments under his mortgage protection insurance policy would only be triggered if he was made redundant, and he was worried about losing his house. He later realised that this belief was probably mistaken, and he would have been entitled to claim.

In the judgment, Mr Justice Holman said that whilst he was 'profoundly sympathetic' to Mr Rahman in the overall circumstances of his loss of employment, there had been systematic dishonesty over a period of at least a week.

See original SDT decision

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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