A Christian lawyer has been struck off and ordered to pay more than £40,000 after calling ‘biblical curses’ on a barrister after a clash over a client’s will.
Solicitor Alvin Just sent ‘inappropriate and unprofessional’ emails to barrister Philip Noble after the pair disagreed over a will dispute at Central London County Court in 2017.
He said in one message to Mr Noble: ‘You are just fading away one step closer to your grave… I will not lose any sleep for your nonsense, as I know the plagues will fall on you just like Pharaoh…
‘You remind (me of) a Grade 7 bully I had to slam to the ground.’
He also sent messages to Mr Noble’s client, including: ‘Your judgement is coming soon beware, and it will not be an easy one, the Most High knows that… Just remember that whosoever diggeth a pit shall fall in it.’
Mr Just, 51, a partner at London-based firm Just & Brown Solicitors, was put before a disciplinary tribunal in 2022 after Mr Noble flagged concerns with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) over the emails he’d been sent.
In the judgement striking him off earlier on in February, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said: ‘Even in the context of hostile litigation, members of the public would expect solicitors to be robust, but temperate in the language they used when communicating with the other side.
‘That expectation was even higher when those communications were with the lay client.’
The tribunal also looked at allegations relating to Mr Just’s handling of a case involving a will and his response to the SRA’s investigation into him.
The Tottenham-based lawyer failed to ensure a client’s money was kept in a separate ‘client account’, it found.
Mr Just then refused to cooperate with the subsequent investigation from the SRA.
The tribunal found during the investigation, he ‘deliberately withheld information and misled the SRA in a number of material matters’.
It added: ‘The tribunal found that ordinary and decent people would consider that a solicitor who had knowingly and deliberately lied and misled his regulator during the course of an investigation into his conduct had acted dishonestly.’
Mr Just argued in his defence that Mr Noble had a ‘serious vendetta’ against him and therefore did not accept his comments were ‘inappropriate’.
He claimed quoting Bible passages was not a breach of his duties.
The tribunal found Mr Just’s comments had been made in the context of ‘extremely hostile litigation’, but that he expressed his ‘frustration and annoyance’ with the barrister ‘in a manner that was inappropriate’.
However, it did not find the comments ‘offensive or threatening’.
‘In communicating in the way that he did, Mr Just had failed to maintain the trust the public placed in him,’ it said.
The tribunal concluded Mr Just would be struck off the Roll of Solicitors and he was ordered to pay costs of £41,896.20.
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