John Michael Malins V Solicitors Regulation Authority Case Study

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Case Comment: John Michael Malins v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2017] EWHC 835 (Admin) 2017 WL 01339062

Summary:

The facts of Malins v SRA 2017 are as follows: in 2013, the appellant provided his legal service to his client, had filed for After the Event Insurance policy to help cover against adverse costs. In 2012, the law changed under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and came into force on 1st April 2013 which stated under section 46 that claims after this date would no longer be entitled to recover the costs. However, you would only be able to recover such costs if a notice in form N251 had been given to the opposite party and filed at court. Although the appellant thought that he had given the required notice on the 19th of Match 2013, the other side affirmed during mediation, in January 2014, that they had not received any notice. Also, he was informed by his assistant that he failed to file with the court too. This lead the appellant to create a letter and a form N251 with a later date which he sent it to the other party and then subsequently relied on it during the settlement.

In June of 2014, the appellant disclosed to the firm what he had done and then the firm reported it to the SRA in October 2014. After this occurred the appellant proceeded to make a self-report to the SRA as well. The SRA argued lack of integrity according to the creation of the letter and form. They also alleged that by relining on them the appellant had acted dishonestly. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found the appellant guilty of dishonesty but he had also been charged with acting without integrity, and was struck of the roll. The appellant appealed against both conviction and sentence.

Legal issue:

The decision of the tribunal was that the appellant was found guilty of having acted with dishonesty when he relied on the documents, but not when he created them, here he was charged with lack of integrity. The court had to therefore consider what the definition of the words ‘dishonesty’ and ‘integrity’ was.

Critical analysis:

The lead Mostyn J to search for the definition of each word and found dishonesty to be “the reverse of honesty; lack of probity or integrity;” and

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