Since at the root of these blogs are issues of right and wrong, I will start by setting out the key principles which solicitors must uphold according to the Code of Conduct of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Solicitors must; “uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice”, and “act with integrity” (defined as being honest and having strong moral principles). We must also; “behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in [us] and in the provision of legal services”. We are also expected to; “Act in the best interests of each client”.
There is inevitably some tension between those provisions. What weight you give to them depends on your personal values. I have dealt with lawyers who act for large organisations (particularly newspapers) who justify pretty well everything they do because they say they are acting in their client’s best interests. I have seen dreadful wrongdoing on the part of lawyers justified on that basis undertaken to prevent justice being done.
When Noel’s companies were brought down by HBOS in 2006 the mega law firm Denton Wilde Sapte began proceedings to enforce his personal guarantee deploying documentation signed by the now jailed Mark Dobson. Dobson had forced Noel into the guarantee after pillaging his companies with exorbitant fees and interest charges and not allowing him to sell shares in one of his own companies to pay off the overdraft. Noel and his ex-business partner served defences which set out the disgraceful way in which HBOS had acted to bring the companies down.
Had the case gone to full trial there would have been much embarrassment to HBOS because of what would have emerged in the public domain about its conduct towards Noel’s businesses. So Denton Wilde Sapte used the common tactic deployed by litigants who have limitless sums of money against those who have none, which is to mount a complex and expensive application for judgment to drain the morale and resources of the weaker opponent. This was also done to avoid the bank having to disclose documents which would have proved fault on its part.
The bank then opened negotiations with the threat of that application hanging over their opponents to try to force a deal in its favour.
Bullyboy tactics such as this are routinely used by banks such HBOS and Lloyds against those who they have wronged to ensure that they keep the proceeds of crime, as many other fraud victims will testify. Noel chose not to fight the bank because he had agreed to host “Deal or no Deal” and given his shooting schedule, having a protracted battle with HBOS made no sense.
It will be more difficult for the mega law firm that HBOS/Lloyds has now hired (Herbert Smith Freehills) to do its dirty work to use that particular ploy because I have secured an offer of litigation funding for Noel should we have to fight the bank in the courts.
Lloyds is however spending vast sums of money with HSF trying to cover up its wrongdoing and deny fraud victims a proper level of compensation. Speaking for myself that is not work that I could do while acting with integrity, and because it does not serve to “uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice”.