The High Court has ruled that a disciplinary tribunal should hear in full a private prosecution brought against current Law Society president David Greene.
Lord Justice Popplewell and Mr Justice Garnham, sitting in Davies v Greene, ruled today that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s decision to strike out the case in September 2019 was flawed and should be overturned.
The judges made clear that they were not expressing any view that Greene had behaved improperly. But the tribunal had not properly examined the evidence underlying the complaint, by former client David Davies, and if it had done so would have been bound to find there was a case to answer. Greene said in a statement: ‘I absolutely deny the allegations of Mr Davies and after I am given the opportunity to put in evidence, I fully expect the tribunal to dismiss these claims as all courts and the tribunal itself have done previously.’
The dispute between Davies and Greene relates to a costs issue, which culminated in a court giving judgment in 2016 in favour of Greene’s firm Edwin Coe for £7,218. Davies alleged that the court had been deliberately misled by Greene’s evidence, and the former client subsequently filed a complaint with the SDT. The SRA, which would usually bring prosecutions before the tribunal, had considered Davies’ allegations but had not pursued the case.
Davies submitted to the High Court that the SDT’s decision to strike out his application was wrong, and he accused the tribunal of abuse of process and procedural irregularity. Greene’s representatives said the SDT was entitled and right to strike out the application.
The appeal judges said the SDT ‘did not engage with the detail’ of Davies’ evidence and was content to rely on the conclusions of the 2016 judgment.
They added: ‘In our judgment, it is at least arguable that the disparity between what Mr Greene said in evidence and the position revealed by the correspondence is capable of supporting a case that the former was not only misleading but deliberately so.’
In a statement, Edwin Coe said: ‘This case is a private prosecution brought by a former client in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The underlying events happened some 10 years ago. Since then Mr Davies’ allegations have been considered both by the court in civil proceedings, by the SRA and by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. All have found nothing in Mr Davies’ allegations. Although this court as a preliminary issue has now referred the matter back to the tribunal for a full hearing, it has done so without considering any evidence from Mr Greene.
‘This is specifically not a finding of any wrongdoing on his part. We are advised to appeal this decision and will now seek permission.’