Solicitor takes campaign to doors of SRA after winning first round of court battle

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By Legal Futures

4 October 2011

High Court: rejected SRA's strike-out bid

A solicitor will take his campaign against the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for shutting down his practice to its front door on Wednesday with a protest outside of its Redditch headquarters.

Christopher Adrian Gadd’s protest, along with the first of what he says will be a series of YouTube videos, follows the SRA’s failed attempt to strike out his High Court action seeking damages after it shut down his Southampton law firm.

The case will now go before a judge. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Mr Gadd claims that his firm, Christopher Gadd Limited (CGL), was closed by the SRA in December 2009 in what he called “an outrageous decision” that was based on his role at his previous firm, WB Legal, for which he was disciplined and his former partner, Mark Ian Bronzite, was struck off.

In December 2010 Mr Gadd was suspended from practice for six months by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). He was subsequently permitted to practise as a solicitor only in an employed capacity.

No allegation was made that he was dishonest and the tribunal rejected the SRA’s allegation that he had behaved recklessly.

The heart of his claim is that he believes the SRA should have intervened in WB Legal in 2007, before he even joined it. His damages action is based on the Human Rights Act, involving rights to peaceful enjoyment of possessions and to a fair trial.

“The enforced closure of my firm led to redundancies two weeks before Christmas, the forcible displacement of over 2,000 clients and the administration of at least one of my big suppliers,” he said.

Responding to the complaints, an SRA spokesman said the regulator would not comment on ongoing litigation but it would reiterate that Mr Gadd had “admitted several allegations in the SDT” and had received a “significant penalty”, showing the tribunal “clearly considered his misconduct to have been serious.”

Mr Gadd argued that the findings in relation to breaches of the Solicitors Accounts Rules came about because they were offences of ‘strict liability’, and described the rest of the allegations upheld by the SDT – some of which the tribunal accepted flowed from him putting WB Legal into administration – as “minor charges” that “would not have warranted closure of CGL”.

These included relying upon introducers as a source of work to the extent that it had compromised the independence of his practice and failing to comply with an undertaking.

The SRA spokesman continued: “There was a substantial shortage in the client account of WB Legal and Mr Gadd’s practising certificate was suspended by the intervention, with consequences for any other practice of which he was a principal. Intervention does not freeze the personal assets of a solicitor which can be used to fund any proceedings should they wish to challenge interventions.”

Mr Gadd said all of his money was in the firm and so he did not have any to challenge the intervention, nor did he have time to raise it given the very short window available.

He is still “looking to raise funds” from “fellow professionals” to take on the SRA, which he alleged had subjected him to a “two-year campaign of persecution”.

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