Former Law Society president David Greene did not give ‘inaccurate [or] misleading’ evidence in a dispute with a former client, his lawyer told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal today as his disciplinary hearing concluded.
Greene, senior partner at London firm Edwin Coe, denies being dishonest in a witness statement put before the county court in 2012, in which he stated he had not been in contact with his former client ‘for some time’.
His former client David Davies has brought a complaint against the high-profile solicitor at the SDT, alleging that Greene gave misleading evidence in a dispute about some £7,000 in unpaid fees.
Elaine Banton, for Davies, told the tribunal earlier this week that Greene ‘misled the court’ in relation to the dispute, which goes back to 2008 and relates to legal action taken by Davies’ company Eco-Power against Transport for London.
Eco-Power’s judicial review against TfL was dismissed and the company’s claim for damages was stayed but Davies told the firm in 2009 that he wanted to pursue the damages claim, for which Edwin Coe opened a new file.
Davies later claimed that Eco-Power, not he, was the client and refused to pay Edwin Coe’s bill. The firm issued proceedings during which Greene told the court there had been ‘a break of a year’ in communication from 2008.
In 2012, District Judge Stewart ruled that Davies personally owed Edwin Coe £7,218.74 and, in 2016, the same judge rejected Davies’ application to set aside the earlier judgment based on the allegation that Greene misled the court.
Banton argued that Greene ‘misled the court in two related aspects of his evidence to support Edwin Coe’s case that a new and separate retainer for Mr Davies for what was a claim for Eco-Power’.
However, Greene said in his evidence on Wednesday that his witness statement referred to ‘substantive’ contact relating specifically to the damages claim.
‘I don’t lie to the courts, I have no reason to lie,’ Greene said. ‘I am an officer of the court. [The statement] is not a lie, it is a reflection of my belief at the time and my understanding is that nothing substantive was happening in relation to the damages claim in that period.’
Ben Hubble KC, in closing submissions for Greene, said today: ‘There was nothing inaccurate, nothing misleading, about the witness statement.’ He added that the statement reflected Greene’s ‘genuine recollection and belief’.
‘The evidence given by Mr Greene was not misleading … it was accurate and certainly it was not materially inaccurate,’ Hubble said.
He also questioned why Greene would mislead the court over such a small amount, saying that there is ‘simply no evidence of motive here … it simply makes no sense’.
Tribunal chair Gerald Sydenham said at the conclusion of the hearing that the SDT will give its decision on the allegations against Greene at a later date.