Ashurst must heed past masters

Barry O’Brien should feel like he is in good hands. While Ashurst, the firm defending him against the Law Society’s allegations, might not have recent experience in Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal hearings, the firm does have pedigree.

Back when Ashurst used to be known as Ashurst Morris Crisp, it acted for a firm of solicitors in a case in which the Law Society alleged that a firm was not registered to carry out probate work. The case went all the way to the House of Lords, where their Lordships ruled decisively against the Law Society and in favour of Ashurst’s clients and its co-defendants, awarding costs as well.

It was a triumphant victory, and would be a reassuring precedent for O’Brien – were it not for the fact that the case took place in 1883. Judgment was handed down by Lords Blackburn, Bramwell and Fitzgerald and the Earl of Selborne in May of that year. Ed Sparrow, for O’Brien, has a lot to live up to.