Muller v Solicitors Regulation Authority

QBD (Admin) [2 Nov 2010]

A student, M, who applied to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for a certificate of enrolment in order that he could complete the Legal Practice Course had the application refused because of cautions he had received for fraud offences.

M requested a review of the refusal and the matter was considered by a panel. M gave evidence to the panel that, acting on his cousin's request, he had used the cousin's credit card and forged his signature twice. M admitted that he had been wrong, but submitted that he was not dishonest and had not acted for personal gain. The panel refused to issue a certificate of enrolment and, despite the evidence given to it by M, recorded that he had not accepted he was wrong in forging the signature.

M appealed and the court found that there was evidence of dishonesty, but that the real issue was whether the offences were sufficiently serious to justify refusing to issue a certificate. The court considered the facts of the matter, including that:

  • the police at the time had issued a caution and not treated the matter more seriously;
  • M had been young at the time of the events and had since matured significantly;
  • M had accepted that his actions were wrong;
  • this was a case of admission, rather than striking off;
  • M's behaviour had been exemplary in the period since the offences were committed and he had provided outstanding character references.

The court held that, although this was a borderline case, in the circumstances M's previous behaviour did not cast doubt on his ability to practise. It therefore directed the SRA to issue a certificate of enrolment.