Solicitors named by High Court Judge for ‘grave failures’ in immigration disclosure
Immigration solicitors face disciplinary action if they fail to reveal ‘all material facts’ when applying to prevent removals, the president of the Queen’s Bench Division warned, naming three firms who had not to complied with disclosure duties.
Sir John Thomas has warned that solicitors must disclose everything, including facts that go against their case, when making ex parte Judicial Review and Injunction applications to the High Court to prevent the removal of failed asylum seekers. He named three firms whose solicitors, he said, were responsible for ‘very grave failures’ to comply with their duty to make full disclosure to the court.
The three firms named were London firms Dylan Conrad Kreolle, S Satha & Co and MQ Hassan Solicitors. All the firms apologised. S Satha & Co claimed it had made an administrative error. In a statement on Wednesday, Victor Nwosu of Dylan Conrad Kreolle Solicitors denied failing to disclose and said Thomas’s comments had ‘come as an absolute shock’. Nwosu said he had ‘disclosed all relevant documents in the substantive judicial review application’.
Sir Thomas stated: “We consider that the appropriate course of action to take in this case is for Mr Hassan to report to the Solicitors Regulation Authority what steps he is taking to ensure that all those who work in his firm are properly trained in particular in the obligation incumbent upon a solicitor to make full and proper disclosure of all material facts to the courts”
The learned Judge went on to state that ‘That will be the last time this court will, unless there are strong mitigating circumstances, fail to refer people to the Solicitors Regulation Authority for a breach of these very high duties to the court.’
The naming follows a warning in a previous case, in which Thomas pledged to ‘take the most vigorous action’ against firms that lodged last minute ‘meritless’ applications without complying with procedures.
Speaking at the Solicitors’ Association of Higher Court Advocates’ conference, Thomas said: ‘There has been a complete failure of the profession to comply with fundamental standards… a failure to honour the duty that when you make an ex parte application, it is your duty to draw to the attention of the judge the things that are against you.’
‘I hoped a warning would work. It didn’t,’ he said.
The full judgment is available here.