27/02/2015

Miscellaneous

Assorted things of note.

The closing date for applications for the Tower Hamlets Law Centre Housing Solicitor post has been extended to 11 March 2015.

Southend have been refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court in Southend v Amour (our report on the Court of Appeal hearing here). So this is a successful article 8 defence to possession, effectively confirmed by the Supreme Court.

In 2014, Leeds City Council obtained an injunction, applying to the city centre and Leeds City Station, “preventing all persons from sitting or loitering on a thoroughfare or Leeds City Station with any article to be used for begging, such as caps, hats, boxes or similar receptacles.” under s.222 Local Government Act 1972. That injunction has now been discharged, on the basis that it could not actually be maintained against anybody. For more details – and this is a significant case on the use of s.222 injunction powers to effectively make byelaws – see the Garden Court North website.

As a cautionary tale, do not effect a surrender by operation of law of a lease when expecting compensation under a compulsory purchase order. Obichukwu v London Borough Of Enfield [2015] UKUT 64 (LC)

And our friends Charles Henry & Co (the “not solicitors”, aka Legal Action) have also seen more action in the High Court: Law Society (Solicitors Regulation Authority) v (1) Charles Henry & Co (2) Kevin Gregory (2015) QBD (Elisabeth Laing J) 29/01/2015 [not on Bailii. Note on Lawtel]

When last we saw Kevin Gregory, in August 2014, it was the making of a General Civil restraint Order against him. A GCRO against Charles Henry/Legal Action was adjourned. It appears that a GCRO was subsequently made against Charles Henry/Legal Action too, as it is noted in this judgment. As per that previous case, the SRA might not have regulated Charles Henry/Legal Action as a ‘charity’, they were interested in the solicitors recorded as working for them. That interest continues, bolstered by the GCROs. We saw that the solicitors had previously said that none of them really had anything much to do with Charles Henry/Legal Action, honest, but the SRA applied for, and got, a disclosure order against Charles Henry/Legal Action for various documents concerning the solicitors’ involvement in matters (despite a ‘lengthy witness statement’ from Mr Gregory. And we have seen just how opaque that involvement by solicitors could be).

The charity appealed but did not seek a stay and remained in breach. The SRA then sought a disclosure order against Kevin Gregory personally. Mr Gregory put in another witness statement stating variously “that the documents were in paper form only, had been destroyed, were in the possession of clients, or were confidential”. (Uncharitably, I have tended to consider such assertions as the ‘dog ate it’ defence. Which may of course be true, depending on the dog.)

Counsel was instructed for this hearing, so the Defendant was actually there on this occasion. Mr Gregory, via counsel, further argued, variously that:

(1) the statutory test for the making of the order had not been met;
(2) he could not be joined to proceedings which had been concluded;
(3) in respect of each file sought the SRA had to show what misconduct was alleged and the roles played by the solicitors;
(4) the order would breach his art.8 rights as files were sought in respect of cases in which he was the claimant;
(5) the SRA was unable to establish that the files were in his possession, custody or control.

This did not go well. The Court held:

(1) The statutory test had already been made out against the charity at the previous hearing. There had been no change in circumstances. The practice manager had been involved in the unmeritorious actions in respect of which the SRA was seeking documents. Mr Gregory’s first witness statement had contained irrelevant matters which gave the court cause to doubt the statement’s reliability. His second statement night have been shorter but wholly ignored the fact that an order had already been made.
(2) The proceedings would not be at an end until the order was complied with and the SRA had received the documents it sought.
(3) It was sufficient under the Solicitors Act 1974 s.44BB that the SRA had a general concern that the three solicitors had not supervised litigation conducted by the charity and the practice manager, and that GCROs had been made against the charity and practice manager while the solicitors were practising at their office.
(4) While there would be an interference with Mr Gregory’s Art 8 rights, such interference was taken into account by the statutory scheme, which involved a balancing exercise between the public’s interest in the investigation of solicitors’ misconduct and their art 8 rights. Requiring disclosure of the files was not therefore disproportionate.
(5) Mr Gregory’s second statement was vague and only referred to paper files. It could not be the case that there were only paper files in this day and age.

A disclosure order was made against Kevin Gregory.

We await the next instalment breathlessly, but as ever must note that ‘Legal Action’ has nothing at all to do with the estimable Legal Action Group.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

2 Comments

    • Giles Peaker

      Yes, I saw that. Not clear if he was the trustee involved. Awaiting further news…

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