In Re A Solicitor (Ofosuhene): CA 21 Feb 1997

Mr Ofusehene was a solicitor whose conduct had been referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, but the Tribunal then declined jurisdiction on the basis that the conduct complained of arose prior to his admission as a solicitor.
Held: Where the Law Society had not become aware of an appellant’s convictions before becoming a solicitor, it would have been able to file a complaint in respect of their pre-admission convictions and conduct with the SDT and seek an order striking them off the roll.
Rose LJ said: ‘It seems to me to be plain that the whole purpose of (section 47) is to enable jurisdiction to be exercised over those presently practising as solicitors. It is, as Sir Thomas Bingham MR pointed out in Bolton . . both in the public interest and in the interest of maintaining the reputation of the solicitors’ profession, that this should be so and that appropriate standards should be maintained by those who practise as solicitors.
To this end, it seems to me that if, in the past, one who is now a solicitor has behaved in a way which is incompatible with such standards, it is, and should be open to the tribunal to say so and to control the circumstances in which, if at all, he or she should continue to practice in the future. It is entirely consonant with this purpose, that the tribunal should exercise jurisdiction over one who is a solicitor by reference to past behaviour, whatever his or her status at the time of that behaviour. The tribunal’s jurisdiction over a person accused rests solely and entirely on the present status of an accused as a solicitor. Whether in a particular case past conduct is compatible with the accused continuing in practice will depend, plainly, on the nature of the conduct as proved before and assessed by the tribunal.’


Rose LJ, Nelson and Hooper JJ


21 February 1997 unreported


Solicitors Act 1974 47


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedJideofo v The Law Society; Evans v The Solicitors Regulation Authority 31-Jul-2007
(Master of the Rolls) Each applicant challenged decisions not to allow them to become student members of the Law Society.
Held: The test for character and suitability was a necessarily high one; was one which was not concerned with punishment, . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Legal Professions

Updated: 01 May 2022; Ref: scu.271155