In an unusual move, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, is to investigate whether three Court of Appeal judges were racist towards prominent London solicitor Sarosh Zaiwalla.
Lord Irvine launched his investigation after Zaiwalla, senior partner of London firm Zaiwalla & Co, wrote to him about the conduct of the Lords Justices Simon Brown, Waller and Morritt, who issued a wasted costs order against him in December last year.
In his letter, which has been seen by The Lawyer, Zaiwalla insisted that he did not want to make a formal complaint against the judges. But he went on to make a series of allegations about their conduct which included the claim that they subjected him to "ferocious criticism" during a shipping appeal hearing without giving him the chance to defend himself.
Issuing a wasted costs order against Zaiwalla after the hearing, Lord Justice Simon Brown accused him of employing "wrecking tactics" and of "plaguing" the court with "absurd arguments".
A Lord Chancellor's Department spokesman said senior officials would investigate the matter before Lord Irvine made a final decision.