DishonestyAlthough it embodies no important new statement of principle the case of Solicitors Regulation Authority v Lawrence & Anor  EWCA Civ 421 is an illustration of the circumstances in which the Court of Appeal will interfere with a decision of a disciplinary tribunal, as well as resoundingly reaffirming the approach to sentencing in cases of dishonesty cases enshrined in Bolton v Law Society  1 WLR 512, namely that:
"Any solicitor who is shown to have discharged his professional duties with anything less than complete integrity, probity and trustworthiness must expect severe sanctions to be imposed upon him by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Lapses from the required high standard may, of course, take different forms and be of varying degrees. The most serious involves proven dishonesty, whether or not leading to criminal proceedings and criminal penalties. In such cases the tribunal has almost invariably, no matter how strong the mitigation advanced for the solicitor, ordered that he be struck off the Roll of Solicitors. Only infrequently, particularly in recent years, has it been willing to order the restoration to the Roll of a solicitor against whom serious dishonesty had been established, even after a passage of years, and even where the solicitor had made every effort to re-establish himself and redeem his reputation. . . .
“It is important that there should be full understanding of the reasons why the tribunal makes orders which might otherwise seem harsh. There is, in some of these orders, a punitive element: a penalty may be visited on a solicitor who has fallen below the standards required of his profession in order to punish him for what he has done and to deter any other solicitor tempted to behave in the same way. Those are traditional objects of punishment. But often the order is not punitive in intention. Particularly is this so where a criminal penalty has been imposed and satisfied. The solicitor has paid his debt to society. There is no need, and it would be unjust, to punish him again. In most cases the order of the tribunal will be primarily directed to one or other or both of two other purposes. One is to be sure that the offender does not have the opportunity to repeat the offence. This purpose is achieved for a limited period by an order of suspension; plainly it is hoped that experience of suspension will make the offender meticulous in his future compliance with the required standards. The purpose is achieved for a longer period, and quite possibly indefinitely, by an order of striking off. The second purpose is the most fundamental of all: to maintain the reputation of the solicitors' profession as one in which every member, of whatever standing, may be trusted to the ends of the earth. To maintain this reputation and sustain public confidence in the integrity of the profession it is often necessary that those guilty of serious lapses are not only expelled but denied re-admission. . . . A profession's most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence which that inspires." (Emphasis added by the court.)
In Dennison the allegation against the defendant solicitor was that he had ‘facilitated, permitted or acquiesced in the provision by Legal Report Services ("LRS"), a company in which he had a one third interest, of medical reports for clients for whom Rowe Cohen acted under the TAG scheme, and thereby created a conflict between: a. his financial interest in LRS; and b. his and Rowe Cohen's duty to the client.’ He had originally been fined the sum of £23,500 with costs by the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal. The Solicitors Regulation Authority ("SRA") had appealed against this order which had been changed by the Divisional Court to one of striking off. Upon Mr Dennison’s appeal against the striking off the Court of Appeal had found the tribunal’s decision ‘wholly inappropriate’ and affirmed the striking off.
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