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
Solicitors Regulation Authority Sanctions Solicitor For Not Paying Barrister Costs
On 18th May 2022, it came to light that the leading regulator of the legal profession, the Solicitors Regulation Authority had handed down a decision notice which imposed a sanction in the form of a fine of £2,000.
Why Was The Fine Handed Down To The Solicitor?
To understand what had happened in the case it is important to go back to 2017 to the time of the premiership of Theresa May and before Boris Johnson achieved the stonking majority of over eighty seats in the United Kingdom Parliament in the General Election in December 2019 and lightyears before the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. In 2017 the firm received a request for the payment of barrister fees by way of an invoice. In more detail, the firm was required to pay just shy of £30,000 for the respective barrister fees. However, the entire outstanding figure owed by the law firm remained unpaid for some considerable time.
At this point as the fees were still unpaid and with seemingly no hope of the debt being settled the decision was made to submit proceedings in the County Court as a regrettable last resort. When the County Court heard the evidence in the claim it issued an order for the payment of the respective fees and the situation progressed from bad to worse for the solicitor when the outstanding balanced had increased by just shy of thirty-five percent. The firm went from owing just short of thirty thousand pounds to forty thousand pounds taking into account of the addition of interest.
What Did The Solicitors Regulation Authority Say?
The Solicitors Regulation Authority stated that the fine handed down was to send the message which emphasized the importance of upholding the trust and confidence the public place in those legal professionals working in the legal sector. It commented that the lawyer’s actions of leaving the barrister fee monies to remain outstanding had equated to a violation of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles as it had seemingly undermined the perceived trust the public place in individual lawyers and the collective legal profession as a whole.
Why Is This Case Important?
This case appears to mark the be a sign of the tide turning from a legal perspective whereby the Solicitors Regulation Authority is seemingly very keen to move away from sending disciplinary cases to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and towards the taking of decisions itself of its own volition in more cases of this kind. The case was observed to be one where the £2,000 fine imposed was the highest rate of fine handed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority without having to proceed through the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Lawyers of all descriptions should be paying close order to this decision by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and following the following strategies as closely as they reasonably can do so as it will mitigate the risk of them falling foul of a regulatory sanction in the form of a fine. Those working in the legal profession under the inherent jurisdiction of the regulator should be following the advice of the regulator by:
- complying with orders handed down by the court of England and Wales
- ensuring invoices received are reviewed, dealt with, and paid as soon as reasonably practicable and
- opening the clear channels of communication between themselves, the courts, and any other parties who are involved and
- not allowing interest to increase significantly on the amount which was originally accrued.
If legal professionals follow this strategy they will uphold the trust the public places in lawyers and not breach the Principles of the Solicitors Code of Conduct for Solicitors.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
 Hyde, John – Principal fined for not paying counsel’s £29,000 fees – Law Society Gazette - 18 May 2022 - Principal fined for not paying counsel’s £29,000 fees | News | Law Gazette
 Solicitors Regulation Authority – Ahmed Mohamed Hersi – 8th April 2022 - SRA | Person details | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Rose, Neil – Solicitor fined for failing to pay thousands in counsel’s fees – Legal Futures - 17 May 2022 - Solicitor fined for failing to pay thousands in counsel's fees - Legal Futures
 Hilborne, Nick – Solicitor who sued Lord Chancellor for £4.4 million is fined by SDT – Legal Futures - 24 August 2018 - Solicitor who sued Lord Chancellor for £4.4m is fined by SDT - Legal Futures
 Principle 2 – SRA Principles - SRA | Principles | Solicitors Regulation Authority
 Section 31 Solicitors Act 1974
 Section 9 Administration of Justice Act 1985
 Section 83 Legal Services Act 2007