First published on the Brett Wilson Crime, Fraud and Regulatory Law Blog on 26 September 2016
Alan Blacker, the colourful solicitor-advocate who was struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) in July following a two-day hearing (which he did not attend), has failed in his bid for a rehearing and ordered to pay a further £7,500 in costs.
Mr Blacker, who uses the title Lord Harley of Counsel, initially faced eight allegations arising out of his employment as a solicitor for a charity (Jaflas). The allegations included failure to comply with accounting rules and procedures, making inaccurate and misleading statements in relation to his academic qualifications and his entitlement to use titles, and misleading His Honour Judge Wynn Morgan at Cardiff Crown Court.
In his LinkedIn profile Mr Blacker, 44, had claimed, inter alia, that he had studied at Oxford University, had first-class honours degrees and practising rights in Canada, Ireland and Denmark. The hearing proceeded in Mr Blacker’s absence and the SDT found seven of the eight allegations against him to be proven. The allegation in relation to misleading HHJ Wynn Morgan (who infamously referred to Blacker as ‘looking like something out of Harry Potter’ because of badges and ribbons he had worn in court) was found not proven. Mr Blacker was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £86,000 in costs.
Following the decision Mr Blacker had 14 days to apply for a rehearing which may be ordered where a respondent has not appeared and has not been represented. On the 6 September 2016 the SDT heard Mr Blacker’s application for a rehearing. Once again Mr Blacker failed to appear citing [unpublished] medical problems. He was represented by Mr Anton van Dellen from Goldsmith Chambers. In a statement before the re-hearing van Dellen said his client was ‘very disappointed’ with the decision of the SDT made in his absence. ‘He was unable to attend due to his disabilities, which will be the basis of his application for a rehearing under the SDT rules,’ said the statement. ‘He is very concerned that reasonable adjustments are not being made for his disabilities, as is required by law. He is also amazed by the extremely high level of costs incurred by the SRA.’
Counsel for Blacker explained that he had been unable to attend the original hearing as the Tribunal had refused to transfer the hearing to Manchester or Rochdale and his disability prevented him from travelling to London. In response, the SRA argued that Blacker had failed to serve proper medical evidence (Blacker had refused to allow the medical evidence to be shared with the SRA) to support his application for transfer to Rochdale or London. Blacker had filed 150 pages of evidence two days before the original hearing setting out his defence. Having considered the defence the Tribunal was still satisfied that the allegations were proven.
The SDT held that to order a rehearing would involve the witnesses being called again and incur significant costs. Blacker had failed to file/serve medical evidence in time and prevented its disclosure to the SRA. Medical evidence subsequently disclosed was “insufficiently detailed and unconvincing”. It had been Blacker’s sole responsibility for ensuring that the proper medical evidence should have been submitted in advance of the July hearing and that to allow a rehearing in these circumstances would “send entirely the wrong message to the profession”.
The application for a re-hearing was duly refused and Mr Blacker was ordered to pay a further £7,500 in costs. This may not be the end of matters as Mr van Dellen stated during the application that there was a “separate appeal that’s going to go on at the High Court”.