Divisional Court overturns finding of exceptional circumstances in three SRA appeals against sanction


In SRA v James, Macgregor and Naylor [2018] EWHC 3058 (Admin) the Divisional Court (Flaux LJ and Jeremy Baker J) considered three appeals brought by the SRA against a sanction of a suspended order for suspension imposed by the SDT following findings of dishonesty against three solicitors. The SDT had held that there were exceptional circumstances in each case which justified a departure from the usual order of strike off following findings of dishonesty, relying on circumstances relating to solicitors’ state of mind at the time of the dishonesty including stress, pressure or mental health issues. The Divisional Court held that SDT had erred in its approach in each of the three cases and had failed to properly assess the nature and extent of dishonesty, which lay at the heart of whether exceptional circumstances justified the imposition of a more lenient order. The judgment provides valuable guidance on the scope of exceptional circumstances in this context.

Heather Emmerson was instructed as junior Counsel by the SRA in the Macregor and James appeals, led by Chloe Carpenter.

Click here to read the judgment.