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Solicitor who vetted TAG claims struck off by High Court

28 February 2011

The partner of a law firm that vetted personal injury claims for The Accident Group (TAG) has been struck off by the High Court.

Anthony Dennison was fined £23,500 by the SDT last year, mainly for breaching conflict of interest rules but also because of an element of dishonesty (see, 19 July 2010).

The SRA argued that because the offence involved dishonesty, he should have been suspended or struck off. The High Court’s order striking off Dennison has been stayed while he appeals.

Dennison was a partner at Rowe Cohen, dissolved in 2007, which vetted personal injury claims for TAG. TAG went into liquidation in 2003. Dennison is currently a partner at Dennison Greer solicitors in Manchester.

The SDT heard that Dennison had a one-third stake in a company which provided medical reports for Rowe Cohen’s clients under the TAG scheme.

It found that Dennison’s clients were not notified that he had an interest in the company that provided their medical reports and he kept his interest hidden from fellow partners in what the tribunal described as a “gross breach of trust”. However, the SDT did not suspend Dennison or strike him off, arguing that “no member of the public would be at risk” if he remained in practice.

Delivering judgment in SRA v Dennison [2011] EWHC 291 (Admin), Mr Justice Lloyd Jones held that the fine imposed by the SDT was “clearly inappropriate”.

He said that Dennison’s dishonest conduct involved “repeated wrongdoing over a long period of time”.

Lloyd Jones J concluded that the objective of protecting the standing of the solicitors’ profession “cannot be properly served by any course other than striking off”.

He allowed the SRA’s appeal. Lord Justice Toulson agreed.

A spokesman for the SRA said it welcomed the Administrative Court’s decision to uphold the principle that a solicitor who was found to have acted dishonestly should almost invariably be struck off.

Dennison said he was “deeply disappointed” by the High Court’s decision and would be appealing to the Court of Appeal.

He said the High Court had agreed to stay the effect of its order pending the appeal.

“I would like to stress that no one has lost any money as a result of what I did,” he added.

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