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When should a disciplinary investigation be stayed pending civil proceedings?

When should a disciplinary investigation be stayed pending civil proceedings?

As Stanley Burnton J. Observed in the case of Land & Ors, R (on the application of) v Executive Counsel of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme [2002] EWHC 2086 (Admin):

‘The Divisional Court in R v Chance, ex parte Smith [1995] BCC 1,095 was far more supportive of the disciplinary proceedings than the Court of Appeal in Brindle [1994] BCC 297. Indeed, in Smith the Divisional Court stated, at 1,101C, that “Brindle was decided on its own facts”: a statement that I read as code for disagreement with the approach of the Court of Appeal in Brindle.’

He went on to express a clear preference in approach which favoured Smith.

‘Looking at the matter generally, in my judgment, with respect to the Court of Appeal in Brindle, the approach of the Divisional Court in Smith is to be preferred. Regulatory investigations and disciplinary proceedings perform important functions in our society. Furthermore, the days have gone when the High Court could fairly regard the proceedings of disciplinary tribunals as necessarily providing second class justice, as indeed (counsel) fully accepted. The approach of the Divisional Court in Smith is in line with that of the Court of Appeal in R v Panel on Take-overs and Mergers, ex p Fayed [1992] BCC 524; it seems to me that it is the approach of the Court of Appeal in Brindle which is out of line. This is not, of course, to suggest that Brindle was not correctly decided, or that the law is other than as stated by the Court of Appeal, apart from the issue as to the inherent injustice of concurrent proceedings.’

(Application refused for a stay of the investigation by the Executive Counsel of the Joint Disciplinary Scheme into the work of the auditors of the Equitable Life Assurance Society.)

 

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