SDT said the comments were ‘completely unacceptable’
A senior law firm partner has been slapped with a £5,000 fine after he, among other things, accused a litigant-in-person of arguing with a judge “like a fisherwoman”.
Stefano Lucatello — a solicitor at Chelsea-based outfit Kobalt Law — was representing a client in matrimonial proceedings against his ex-wife, the specifics of which related to child contact and financial support.
According to a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) judgment published earlier this week, Lucatello sent a number of emails to his client’s wife — who was representing herself in proceedings — between March 2014 and July 2015.
In one email, he wrote:
You seem to think that everyone who represents another party is a liar! I have told you before not to judge people by your own standards.
In another email, referencing what appears to be an earlier court hearing, Lucatello said:
Of course you will have forgotten your own distasteful outbursts before DJ Bowman where you argued with her in court like a fisherwoman.
At one point, Lucatello even threatened to involve the police. In an email dated 10 October 2014 he wrote:
Do not think that I will not have you arrested. Your conduct and behaviour throughout are a disgrace.
Shocked by the tone of the emails, the wife — referred to only as “Ms VG” in the SDT’s judgment — reported Lucatello to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Responding to the complaint back in September, Lucatello — who was admitted to the roll in 1988 — wrote to the SRA maintaining that the comments were “reasonable, fair, polite, but firm.” Describing Ms VG as “unbalanced”, he argued that the heated exchanges were neither offensive nor threatening.
In the run up to the hearing and despite his earlier written protests, the commercial and property specialist admitted the charge, and accepted that he had failed to display proper professional respect and courtesy to Ms VG.
Describing the email exchanges as “completely unacceptable”, the tribunal said:
He had been corresponding with a litigant in person and it had been his responsibility to maintain his professionalism regardless of what that person may have done. [Lucatello’s] conduct was unprofessional and had continued for a period of over a year.
Lucatello was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.
Read the SDT judgment in full below:
For all the latest commercial awareness info, and advance notification of Legal Cheek’s careers events, sign up to the Legal Cheek Hub here.