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In this reported case, the SRA appealed to the High Court on the basis that the decision to suspend Mr Spence was unduly lenient as a finding of dishonesty should warrant erasure.

In February 2011 the SDT ordered that S would be suspended for three years after he had continued to practice without a practicing certificate or professional indemnity insurance. The SDT had also found him guilty of making misleading and dishonest statements to the SRA, failing to comply with the SRA accounts rules, failing to co-operate with the SRA investigators and intentionally misleading them.

The High Court agreed with the SRA and in its judgement concluded that although it understood why the tribunal did not regard it to be the most serious case of dishonesty, it was nonetheless a case of calculated dishonesty and that the conduct concerned required the ultimate sanction. The Court found that the SDT had appeared to treat the repeated lies to the SRA as a less culpable form of dishonesty than misappropriating client funds, which was wrong. It held that it was difficult to see a higher risk to the interest of S's clients than the effect of him continuing to practice without insurance or a certificate.

David Middleton, the SRA’s Executive Director, said: ‘It was important to bring the appeal against the SDT's decision in this case to maintain the principle that a finding of dishonesty will almost invariably indicate that a solicitor is a risk to the public and therefore that strike off is the appropriate order to be made." For a link to the SDT guidance on sanctions go to http://www.solicitorstribunal.org.uk/about-us/news/details.aspx?id=a91f1bb5-283d-438b-b4d6-c7d9b87a8f27