DAVENPORT Lyons has won a Court of Appeal victory for satirical magazine Private Eye against Irwin Mitchell that could result in complaints made against law firms being made available to the public.
Irwin Mitchell instructed Carter Ruck to seek a ruling that would prevent Private Eye from publishing details of a complaint made against the firm and its senior partner, former Law Society president Michael Napier.
The Law Society had upheld an original complaint, but did not find the offence serious enough to refer it to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
The complainant, barrister Michael Ford, then asked the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission (SLCC) to review how the Law Society had handled the complaint because of Napier’s prominent position at the Law Society.
The SLCC criticised the body for failing to reprimand Napier and Irwin Mitchell adequately and recommended that the case be reinvestigated.
When Private Eye tried to publish details of the report, Carter Ruck instructed 5 Raymond Buildings’ James Price QC to argue that, under the law of confidentiality, details of the report should be confidential.
Mr Justice Eady rejected that argument. His ruling was upheld by Lord Justices Hughes, Toulson and Sullivan, who rejected arguments that the client owed a duty of confidentiality to his lawyers.
Davenport Lyons partner Robin Shaw instructed Doughty Street’s Heather Rogers QC to represent Private Eye.