Former Stewarts Law partner challenges SDT strike-off ruling

Former Stewarts Law partner Andrew Shaw is fighting the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) ruling which saw him struck off  in the High Court today, bringing the details of the case into the public domain for the first time.

Shaw was struck off by the SDT in February 2013 following a private prosecution bought by Geoffrey Logue, who had appeared as a defendant in an earlier litigation in which Shaw appeared for the claimant.

In that dispute Shaw was instructed for holiday company, Complete Retreats Liquidating Trust, to obtain a freezing order against Logue. Shaw was criticised in the 2010 ruling over that case. In his judgment Mr Justice Roth said Shaw had shown ”a remarkable lack of proper precaution and supervision in the preparation of the documents”.

That ruling prompted Logue to pursue Shaw and associate Craig Turnbull, who has recently qualified, in a rare SDT private prosecution. The former Stewarts Law partner was accused of dishonestly providing the court with misleading information and failing to disclose the details of third party funding.

Shaw is fighting the SDT to strike him off in a three-day administrative court hearing which ends today (12 December), turning to Fountain Court’s Timothy Dutton QC who was instructed by Mayer Brown partner William Glassey.

Logue is represented by Wilberforce Chambers’ John Wardell QC who is leading Andrew Mold having been instructed by Radcliffes Le Brasseur partner Nigel West. Both Wardell and West acted for Logue in the February SDT hearing and the 2010 judgment.

A key aspect of the case is whether Shaw should have disclosed the fact that the Guernsey-based CPC Group– which had entered into a third-party funding agreement with the liquidating trust – was funding Stewarts Law’s costs. 

Dutton argued that Shaw had no duty to disclose the fact that he was advising CPC. He said that the costs were being funded by the company at the ex parte hearing and fortification stages but had agreed not take a share of the damages.      

Shaw claims the SDT took a flawed approach to its findings. He argues that it failed to apply the correct test for dishonesty, failed to set out the reasons behind the evidence accepted and rejected, and failed to set out the reasoning that led to the conclusions.

In particular Dutton said the tribunal had failed to properly consult character references provided for Shaw and Turnbull.

The original case against Logue for a without notice worldwide freezing order concerned fraudulent transfers made to the US citizen, who worked for the now defunct Retreats Group. In 2008 a complaint was issued on behalf of the liquidating trust about several transfers made to Logue including a $3.65m transfer from the Retreats Group to Logue when the company was already insolvent and believed to be fraudulent by the trust and four property transfers.

Shaw came in for heavy criticism over his conduct in securing the order, forcing Shaw to apoligise. In his judgment Mr Justice Roth said: “I accept the apology for this succession of errors that Mr Shaw has tendered to the court on behalf of his firm.”

The case continues.