Solicitors Regulation Authority revisits Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal costs order
In 2010 Richard Brickley was suspended from pratice by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (‘SDT’) for three months following breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules. Mr Brickley was also ordered to pay the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s costs for their investigation and subsequent application to the Tribunal, amounting to just over £24,000. Enforcement of the costs order was deferred at the time due to Mr Brickley’s financial circumstances.
An application was made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority ('SRA') in June of this year for leave to enforce the costs order against Mr Brickley. In their application, they set out that a property, jointly held by Mr Brickley, had increased significantly in value since 2010, according to online property valuation site Zoopla.
Mr Brickley had maintained that it was not appropriate to enforce the order since 2010. He argued that the sanction imposed by the SDT had left him unemployed and that, although he was in employment now, his net disposable income had changed very little in the intervening years. Mr Brickley asserted that the Zoopla valuation used by the SRA was not accurate, being generic to the property size and location and not specific to the characteristics of the property itself. It was also highlighted that the property was subject to a charge and a mortgage. The SRA, however, argued that they should not be prejudiced against other creditors who were able to enforce their debts.
Ultimately, Mr Brickley consented to the SRA being given leave to enforce the costs order. The parties agreed that the SRA could apply for a charging order on Mr Brickley's property on the condition that no further enforcement action would be taken for a further 18 months. Mr Brickley additionally agreed to pay the SRA's application costs in the sum of £1,341, subject to the same enforcement restrictions.
The SDT approved the agreement, noting that it was pragmatic and proportionate in the circumstances. The full judgment can be found here.
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