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Chapter 16: Law Society intervention orders

In an appeal against a statutory intervention order made by the Law Society remarks were made which would seem to have a wider application than their particular context.

The making of an intervention order under Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Solicitors Act 1974 is a two stage process. ‘First it must decide whether the grounds under paragraph 1 are made out; in this case, primarily, whether there are grounds for suspecting dishonesty. Secondly, if the court is so satisfied, then it must consider whether in the light of all the evidence before it the intervention should continue. In deciding the second question, the court must carry out a balancing exercise between the need in the public interest to protect the public from dishonest solicitors and the inevitably very serious consequences to the solicitor if the intervention continues.’ Per Neuberger J. in Dooley v Law Society (unreported, 15 September 2000); endorsed by Carnwath LJ in Holder v Law Society [2003] EWCA Civ 39. However, ‘The grounds for intervention stated in paragraph 1 of the Schedule are not to be construed as separate and mutually exclusive procedures.’ Carnwath J. in Giles v The Law Society (unreported, 12 April 1995); approved by Chadwick LJ in Sheikh v Law Society of England & Wales [2006] EWCA Civ 1577.

In addressing by Mr Justice Neuberger’s second question ‘the court must, indeed, weigh the risks of re-instating the solicitor in his (or her) practice against the potentially catastrophic consequences to the solicitor (and the inconvenience, and perhaps real harm, to his or her existing clients) if the intervention continues. In weighing the risks of re-instatement the court must have regard to the views of the Law Society as the professional body charged by statute with the regulation of solicitors … and as the body whose members are obliged, through the compensation fund, to underwrite those risks.’ Per Chadwick LJ in Sheikh v Law Society of England & Wales [2006] EWCA Civ 1577.

 

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