Virdi v The Law Society: Admn 18 Feb 2009

The court dismissed the appeal of Mr Virdi from the findings and order of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal finding him guilty of serious professional misconduct and suspending him from practice for a period of 3 years. The solicitor complained of the extent of the involvement of the clerk to the tribunal, an employee of the defendant, was involved in the conduct of proceedings, in particular in drafting the committee’s decision.
Held: The Tribunal had power to permit the clerk to retire with them when they considered their decision and to assist them by drafting part of the formal findings by virtue of rule 31(a).
Scott Baker LJ discussed the suggestion that the proceedings infringed his Article 6 rights, and found that 1. The SDT is entirely independent of the Law Society. The historical and financial connections are well documented as are the steps that have been taken to keep the two bodies separate.
2. The independence of the Tribunal is well established on the authorities.
3. The attack in the present case is not directly on the Tribunal but on the clerk, it being alleged that because she was employed by the Law Society that this in some way tainted the Tribunal’s decision because the Law Society was the prosecutor and neither party should have any connection with the Tribunal. Examination of the clerk’s position however shows that her employment by the Law Society (as with all Tribunal clerks) is not employment in the ordinary sense of the word but very much technical employment for remuneration purposes.
4. The clerk was not the decision maker, either by virtue of her position or on the particular facts of this case. Even taking the broadest view of what the independent and informed observer might think, I can see no basis for concluding that the Tribunal’s decision could be considered to be biased against the appellant.
5. Nothing the clerk did was improper. She was not in any way a party to the decision. She followed the ordinary administrative procedures adopted in other cases. She was entitled to assist in drafting the findings document which, in the event, was not in any way inconsistent with the extempore reasons give by the Chair on 26th October 2007.
Scott Baker LJ and David Clarke J
[2009] EWHC 918 (Admin)
Bailii
Solicitors (Disciplinary Proceedings) Rules 1994 31(a), European Convention on Human Rights 6
Cited by:
Appeal fromVirdi v The Law Society of England and Wales and Another CA 16-Feb-2010
The claimant solicitor complained that in disciplinary proceedings brought against him by the respondent, the clerk to the tribunal had drafted the judgment, even though she had been an emloyee of the respondent.
Held: The description of the . .

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Updated: 28 February 2021; Ref: scu.425526