Legal profession’s defence of Phil Shiner dries up as ‘ambulance chasing’ lawyer admits misconduct

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By Katie King on

Human rights solicitor accepts tribunal “must strike him off”


A former law firm partner dubbed an “army ambulance chaser” by the press has admitted — fully or partly — 18 of the 24 Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) charges brought against him.

In one of the biggest solicitor disciplinary cases ever brought, Phil Shiner admitted to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) yesterday he acted without integrity and paid a middleman to scout out clients in Iraq.

He did not, however, admit charges claiming he authorised and approved payments he knew or suspected to be improper, among others. A full list of SRA charges and Shiner’s responses to them can be accessed here.

University of Birmingham-educated Shiner’s reputation has really been dragged through the mud in recent months.

Right-wing media had a field day when an inquiry into his now defunct human rights law firm, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), found it had made allegations based on “deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility”. The firm is understood to have brought about 200 claims against the Ministry of Defence.

Though lawyers were quick to rally around PIL when the “sad news” of its closure came in in August, the sympathy does not appear to have extended to Shiner himself.

The legal twitterati fell silent as the true extent of Shiner’s actions came to light, while family law specialist Philip Marshall QC described the whole saga as “worrying”.

Though the contested allegations are scheduled to come to trial at the end of January, it’s understood Shiner already knows he will be struck off for his conduct.

Andrew Tabachnik, from 39 Essex Chambers and acting for the SRA, is reported to have said:

Even on the basis of his own admissions, Professor Shiner accepts this tribunal must strike him off at the end of this case.

Solicitor-advocate Jayne Willetts told the SDT case management hearing her client Shiner will likely face next year’s trial unrepresented as her retainer is coming to an end. It’s understood the case has cost nearly half a million pounds to bring so far.