On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
Solicitor Rebuked For Flagrant Disregard Of The Rules
“Wise men say only fools rush in…but I can’t help…not taking instructions from my client!”
What Has Happened?
On 2nd February 2022 the Solicitors Regulation Authority rebuked a solicitor for breaching his warrant of authority by failing to take written instructions from his client. The solicitor had put forward a misleading settlement offer to a Third Party Insurer through the Ministry of Justice Claims Portal which was accompanied by a defective signed Statement of Truth.
What Does This Mean?
The behaviour of the solicitor was found to be reckless. On the facts, it was a relatively straightforward matter involving costs for assistance and care and there was nothing exceptional about the offer. However, the solicitor apparently ignored one fundamental detail. It had seemingly not occurred to him that it might be a wise move to take instructions from the most important person from his perspective, his client.
The solicitor submitted that his behaviour demonstrated that he had acted in the best interests of his client and had followed the Solicitors Code of Conduct. He also suggested that he had seemingly offered something akin to a more efficient service to his clients by acting ‘as quickly as possible’.
However, when the SRA independently reviewed the evidence presented to it, it found that this could not possibly have been the case because the solicitor had attempted to request further instructions from his client’s representative. If he had decided not to submit such an offer and instead to chase his client for a response, drafted detailed file notes of any written correspondence and telephone calls then this strategy would have put him on the correct side of the SRA.
However, this solicitor elected to take a different path and chose to upload the claims for care and assistance to the portal before he had received a response or any instructions. As a Statement of Truth was submitted along-side the correspondence it put him in breach of Part 22 of the Civil Procedure Rules because the Statement was issued defectively.
When a Third-Party Insurer received the respective claims for Assistance and Care through the Ministry of Justice Claim Portal they unsurprisingly had a field day. In response they decided not to agree to a settlement amount and allowed the matter to fall out of the Claim Portal Process. When confronted by the serious allegations the solicitor apparently had no other option but to admit responsibility for the breach of the Solicitors Code of Conduct. He admitted that his actions had brought the legal profession into disrepute because on the evidence they had breached the trust and confidence the public holds in solicitors.
What Impact Could This Have on the Legal Sector?
This case is a lesson for all solicitors about the importance of taking instructions from their clients. It is imperative for solicitors to remember the importance of not overstepping their instructions and being patient. They will stay in the good books of the Regulator if they ensure that they keep chasing clients for a response, draft detailed file notes of any written and telephone call correspondence. Above all remembering that they must not act without clear authority from the respective client.
If solicitors overstep the mark and submit settlements without taking instructions, then the consequences are serious. At the discretion of the Regulator, lawyers may be held liable to a sanction or a fine or both. In this case it imposed a fine of £300.00. However, a future Solicitor in the same position may not be as fortuitous to receive such lenient treatment as the SRA have a reputation for making examples of solicitors for such indiscretions.
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This Article was Written Using the Following Sources
 Solicitors Regulation Authority decision – Agreement – 2 February 2022 - SRA | Holmes, Christopher - 023384 | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Hyde, John – PI solicitor who made an offer without client consent is rebuked – Law Society Gazette – 2 February 2022 - PI solicitor who made an offer without client consent is rebuked | News | Law Gazette
 Principle 2 – Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles – SRA | Principles | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Principle 3 – Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles – SRA | Principles | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Principle 4 - Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles - SRA | Principles | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Principle 5 - Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles - SRA | Principles | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Rule 3.1 – Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct for Solicitors –
 Paragraph 7.3 – Code of Conduct for Solicitors –
 Part 22 - Civil Procedure Rules – Statement of Truth - PART 22 - STATEMENTS OF TRUTH - Civil Procedure Rules (justice.gov.uk)
 Practice Direction 22 of Part 22 – Civil Procedure Rules - PRACTICE DIRECTION 22 – STATEMENTS OF TRUTH - Civil Procedure Rules (justice.gov.uk)
 Section 31 Solicitors Act 1974
 Section 9 Administration of Justice Act 1985
 Section 83 Legal Services Act 2007