Beckwith 2: the SDT’s card should be marked

A quick post from me, based on my tweets yesterday, on the overturning of the SDT decision in the Beckwith case. I blogged about the original decision here.

This is what I said of note:

The SDT is not as clear as we might hope about what is the behaviour that is being criticised here as breaching the relevant principles….

[And] It may seem churlish to demand it, but as the case is to be appealed, we may yet find out that the SDT’s reasons, or lack thereof, come back to bite them. The judgment’s lack of clear and persuasive reasoning ill-serves the gravity of the situation.

As the case has now been successfully appealed in the HC, that view is supported.

Whilst some of the blame may lie with the SRA: the cost element of the case has garnered particular attention (although my initial reaction was, I confess, Imagine my surprise, bringing a case against a Magic Circle partner is expensive). It is worth noting that, the SDT deserves some proper attention.

It is the SDT, not the SRA, that is typically overturned on appeal (See, Boon and Whyte). Anyone reading its decisions will recognise that Beckwith is not an isolated incident. The quality of its reasons is frequently poor. I wonder if it has something to do with the way it works, and in particular its reliance on a pool of part-time adjudicators rather than a more professionalised approach.

Moreover, the quality of its reasoning, impacts on both Mr Beckwith and ‘Person A’. Mr B will be feeling better today no doubt, but Person A, well: if you have read any of her evidence, you will be sure she will be feeling a whole lot worse.

She deserves significantly better than this. He too, although his behaviour led him into this sorry mess.

The Divisional Court judgment is here. It raises some quite serious questions beyond this individual case which you can expect more blogging on soon.

One thought on “Beckwith 2: the SDT’s card should be marked

  1. This case should never have been brought and Mr Beckwith should have his costs in the SDT and in the High Court. And the SRA should learn its lessons and stay out of solicitors’ sex lives. Person A had her remedy (now hopelessly out of time) in the ET or the county court.

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