I am neither a solicitor nor a barrister. I have never been, or claimed to be, either.
This morning, I received notice of a complaint made against me to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Somebody had complained that I had once claimed to be a solicitor. The evidence against me offered was the T2 complaint form that I had submitted to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) on 14th June 2015, which was signed not by me, but by my then client, Mr Philip Kerr, whose Philip Kerr -v- MI5 blog is here. My details were entered on page 1 of the T2 as Mr Kerr’s “solicitor or adviser”. I was indeed advising Mr Kerr in those days, and he had asked me to be his representative in the correspondence with the IPT. He was allowed to be represented in the IPT other than by a solicitor. That is perfectly normal.
The email this morning, notifying me of the complaint and of the SRA’s decision not to pursue it any further, read as follows.
Our ref: CDT/1245013-2018
Dear Mr Allman,
We have received a report in connection with a complaint by Mr Philip Kerr against MI5. It is stated you have claimed to be a solicitor.
My attention has been drawn to an Investigatory Powers Tribunal Complaint Form, containing your details. I consider the issue lies in the form itself. It requests the “solicitor or adviser” complete a section, then requires the “Surname of solicitor-advocate”. As your details appear in this section, the complainant considers you have claimed to be a solicitor when you are not.
Section 20 of the Solicitors Act 1974 sets out that (1) no unqualified person is to act as a solicitor, and (2) any person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for not more than 2 years or to a fine, or both. Section 1 of the same act sets out the requirements to act as a solicitor.
I will not be taking any further action on this occasion, save for drawing your attention to the relevant legislation above.
[Individual’s name redacted]
Investigation and Supervision
Solicitors Regulation Authority
0121 329 6177
As you can see, the SRA has kindly noted that the T2 form is badly designed, in that the field into which the surname of the “solicitor or adviser” is to be entered, is misleadingly labelled “Surname of solicitor-advocate”. Not only am I not a solicitor-advocate, nor are the majority of solicitors! The field ought to have been labelled (at most) “Surname of solicitor/advocate”, and preferably “Surname of solicitor or legal adviser”.
I was Mr Kerr’s representative in the IPT. That was permitted. I did not advocate for Mr Kerr at his oral hearing though. For that role, we instructed Mr Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, who actually is a solicitor-advocate. Tim had played the senior role in Mr Kerr’s legal team ever since (much, much earlier) I had head-hunted him and introduced him to Philip, who brought him on-board. I reported to our mutual client, Mr Kerr, and liaised with Tim and helped Philip to instruct him. The timeline of the litigation we brought is here.
I no longer work for profit as any kind of lawyer. I have never been a member of any of the regulated legal professions or pretended to be. My published CV documents my role at the time when I was representing Mr Kerr in the IPT as follows:
1 June 2010 – 18 November 2016
Self-employed or working pro bono [as a] Freelance paralegal
This work involved me in both of the following roles:
(1) assisting minor clients of my own who were litigants in person, as their only legal help,
(2) working as part of a team that included myself and two barristers and two solicitors, all assisting one particular common client of ours, all accountable to that client separately and directly, whilst liaising with one another as required.
I have to say I had not noticed the error in the form until today. Somebody has obviously done a lot of work trying to catch me in some wrongdoing. Perhaps this explains why visitors to my blog recently have been doing rather more exploring recently.
I am publishing this information promptly in the hope of discouraging my “enemies” (their choice) from making any further spurious complaints of the same nature. I would refer the particular enemy who reported me to the SRA to the much-celebrated and elegantly concise dicta to be found in the pre-action correspondence in Arkell v Pressdram  (unreported).