Sanctions for solicitors
Guidance on the imposition of sanctions on solicitors was recently given by the High Court.
‘In Nahal v The Law Society  EWHC 2186 Admin, Dyson LJ considered the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998 on Bolton v The Law Society and, at paragraphs 31 to 33, he adopted the general approach taken by Sir Thomas Bingham in Bolton. He considered the Human Rights Act in no way disturbed or qualified the principles themselves. However, Dyson LJ did consider that that Act affected the general approach of the court to an appeal of this kind. He referred to Langford v Law Society  EWHC 2802 Admin and to the leading judgment of Rose LJ in that case. Rose LJ considered that a greater flexibility is now appropriate in dealing with these appeals. Rose LJ expressed it in this way:
"We must now apply a less rigorous test. We should simply look at the Tribunal's decision in the light of the whole circumstances of the case, always having due respect for the expertise of the Tribunal and giving to their decision such weight as we should think appropriate." Later Rose LJ added: "Nevertheless, in following this approach we think that it is good sense to keep in view the obvious reasons that have been repeated over the years for according respect to the views of specialist Tribunals in appeals of this kind."
‘It is, of course, clearly established that solicitors may be struck off the Roll for offences not involving dishonesty or personal gain. That follows from the passage in Bolton which I have cited above. Moreover, Mr Miller, who appears on behalf of the respondent, has referred us to other authorities where the draconian sanction of striking off the Roll has been applied, notwithstanding the fact that the cases have not involved dishonesty in any sense. He has referred us to Weston v The Law Society , 29th June 1998, CO/225/1998, and to Williamson v The Law Society  EWHC 1258 Admin. Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that we are here concerned with a case in which there are no allegations of dishonesty but rather with allegations of a persistent neglect of the interests of the client and a persistent failure to respond to reminders, both from the client and in turn from the professional body, the Law Society.’
Yerolemou v The Law Society  EWHC 682 (Admin). (Because the appellant was under colossal pressure, both professionally and in his private life a period of suspension was substituted for a striking off.)
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