Experienced solicitor rebuked for rejecting personal injury offer without client’s consent

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By Rhys Duncan on


‘Conduct was reckless as to the risk of harm,’ SRA finds

An experienced solicitor has been rebuked by the regulator after rejecting multiple offers to settle a personal injury claim without his client’s consent.

Gary Gray Whitaker, at the time working for DAS Law Limited in Bristol, was emailed with a Calderbank offer and an offer under part 36 of the civil procedure rules in October 2021 to settle the claim brought by his client. A Calderbank offer is a settlement offer marked “without prejudice save as to costs”.

After the deadline for accepting both offers had passed in late November, Whitaker emailed the opposing solicitors stating that his client had instructed him to reject them.

However, a decision notice published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states that Whitaker had not provided any advice to his client regarding the offers or received any instructions regarding them.

Whitaker accepted that he failed to act in a way that upholds public trust and confidence in the solicitors’ profession and in legal services.

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In mitigation, the solicitor submitted that his conduct did not result in any actual impact or loss since his client later instructed him to reject the offers. He also raised that he was experiencing difficult personal circumstances at the time.

The SRA noted that the solicitor had no prior regulatory history, and that there was “a low risk of repetition”.

Ultimately, the SRA decided that a rebuke was sufficient in the circumstances. The regulator said:

“Mr Whitaker’s conduct was reckless as to the risk of harm. He could have caused financial detriment to his client as there was no guarantee that his client would be awarded settlement or compensation on more favourable terms. There also existed the possibility that his client could have instructed him to accept either offer. Mr Whitaker removed that option. Some public sanction is therefore required to uphold public confidence in the delivery of legal services.”

“As an experienced solicitor, Mr Whitaker would have been aware that he should only give information to others which is accurate and not in any way misleading. He failed to act accordingly,” the SRA continued.

Whitaker also agreed to pay SRA’s investigation costs of £600. The matter was dealt with by way of agreed outcome.



So, the SRA now regard themselves as better placed than an experienced solicitor to make judgements as to the value of a claim AND the overall prospects of success. No doubt the solicitor would have advised the client as to his views and almost certainly the client would have accepted them but oh, no the Almighty SRA knows best.

Professor SQE

You clearly do not understand how being a lawyer works. A lawyer is not allowed to do things such as rejecting settlement offers unless they have have been instructed to do so by the client. Whether the offer was a good one is besides the point.

Actual litigator (Eversheds)

Hope you aren’t qualified. You absolutely should take instructions from your client where an offer is received, unless you have standing instructions not to settle under any circumstances or where the level or type of offer falls outside of the client’s agreed settlement parameters.


You kinda missed the point. The solicitor did not get the client’s permission to reject the offer. Client consent is mandatory. This is not controversial in any way whatsoever.

SRA are generally dreadful. But this case isn’t an example of that.


It’s basic, and if we all could get away without consulting our clients on matters of importance we’d end up with chaos. In most circumstances experienced solicitors can come to differing views. If it was cut and dried there’d be no need for lawyers. So, in the event the client lost nothing, and the outcome seems sensible.


Is that what you took from reading this? I think the issue is that you’re supposed to take instructions from the client before you respond, rejecting it, though it’s amazing how many people seem to think it’s optional. Also saying you have been “instructed” to reject something when you haven’t, is misleading. I’m not bashing the solicitor involved, clearly he was having a difficult time.


Someone has to say it: would a junior solicitor have been granted the same leniency?



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