A solicitor, Ms Kiani, recently successfully appealed a decision of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (“SDT”) in England and Wales handed down on 12 June 2015. The SDT were criticised for appearing to make findings of dishonesty where no express allegation of dishonesty had been made.
Ms Kiani had admitted breaching the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998. The Solicitors Regulation Authority ("SRA") in relation to the issue of sanction alleged that Ms Kiani had failed to act with integrity, but did not allege that Ms Kiani acted dishonestly and counsel for the SRA made it clear that dishonesty was not an allegation.
The SDT found that Ms Kiani’s behaviour was ‘objectively dishonest’ and ordered that Ms Kiani’s name be struck off the roll of solicitors. The issues on appeal were:
- Whether the SDT investigated or made findings or apparent findings of dishonesty against the solicitor, and if so;
- Since the SRA did not plead or argue before the SDT that the solicitors conduct had been dishonest whether the SDT was nonetheless entitled to do so, and if not;
- What is the effect of that conduct on the judgement of the SDT.
The court upheld the appeal and remitted the matter to the SDT.
The case is a useful reminder to practitioners that allegations of dishonesty should be specifically particularised. This case is also of interest given the ongoing debate in the UK on a unified test for dishonesty for disciplinary tribunals and criminal proceedings.For full case details please follow this link: Kiani v SRA 2015 EWHC 1981 To subscribe to our blog please click here.