Former Bar President fails in attempt to strike SDT case

Greene: Case to answer

David Greene, the former president of the Law Society, failed in his bid to stop a private suit against him in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), although its scope was narrowed.

The case, which dates back to the events of 2008, led to Mr Greene stepping down as chairman in March 2021, during his year in office.

Senior partner at London firm Edwin Coe clashes with David Davies over unpaid fees; the former client accused him of misleading District Judge Stewart in Winchester in connection with this. Mr. Greene denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Davies brought private proceedings before the SDT, but in September 2019 the court found his complaint to be without merit.

However, in January 2021, the High Court ruled that the SDT’s decision was flawed both in its abuse of process analysis and in failing to properly consider the merits of the case.

Although the court concluded that Mr Greene had a case to answer, he stressed that he was not judging whether he had misled the judge.

The Court of Appeal yesterday refused his offer to overturn the High Court’s decision, deciding that Mr Davies’ claim was broader than whether the district judge had been misled in 2012. In another decision in 2016, DJ Stewart said that he had not been misled.

Lord Justice Newey, delivering the court ruling, said Mr Davies also accused Mr Greene of breaching three principles of the SRA without any dishonesty and that Mr Greene had given false evidence whether or not misled DJ Stewart.

He said: ‘It seems to me that the SDT panel which decided on Mr Greene’s application for de-listing approached it on the wrong basis. He saw District Judge Stewart’s 2016 judgment as necessarily fatal to the complaint…

“However, the issues raised by Mr. Davies’ complaint were not in fact identical to those before District Judge Stewart and, in any event, it is not necessarily an abuse of process to invite a court or tribunal to make a finding inconsistent with that made in prior proceedings…

“The Divisional Court was therefore correct in finding the SDT’s decision to be flawed in its abuse of process analysis.”

But Newey LJ struck out the proceeding as it related to whether seeing particular email correspondence would have changed DJ Stewart’s decision in 2012.

“When District Judge Stewart himself said in no uncertain terms that the emails would have made no difference to him, right-thinking people would think, as it seems to me, that it is absurd that Mr. Davies is inviting the SDT in determining that the material would have changed which District Judge Stewart did. The remainder of Mr. Davies’ complaint neither brought the administration of justice into disrepute nor was unfairly vexatious, he continued.

Mr Greene pointed to the long history of the proceedings and argued that it was ultimately a civil matter.

Newey LJ said the SDT must certify that Mr Greene has a case to answer for the case to go forward, while disciplinary proceedings serve a different function than civil litigation.

“Although Mr. Davies’ complaint relates to events that took place 11 years ago, there is documentary evidence of what Mr. Greene said in both his witness statement and in his oral testimony, and correspondence by email from 2008-2009 is also available,” he added. to.

Additionally, “the lapse of time since 2012 is in part attributable to efforts by, first, Edwin Coe and, ultimately, Mr. Greene himself to ward off Mr. Davies’ allegations” .

As to whether the complaint was unfounded, Newey LJ said, “It cannot be said that there is no evidence to support the allegations against Mr. Greene or that the evidence is so tenuous that , taken at its highest level, the SDT could not properly find the proven allegations”.

He added: “I must stress, however, that I express no opinion on whether the allegations are likely be found proven.

Dame Victoria Sharp, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Lady Justice Thirlwall agreed.