Mostyn J has granted a solicitor an extension of time to appeal findings of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). He accepted that the delay in serving the notice of appeal was because the judgment appealed against had not come to the solicitor’s attention for some time because it was diverted to his email spam folder, and he ruled that this was not something that justified refusing an extension of time.

The 21-day period in which to file a notice of appeal had expired on 2 January 2019, but the notice itself was not filed until 10 January 2019, nine days late. The solicitor said that he had not come across the judgment containing the SDT findings until 24 December 2019. The Christmas holiday period then meant that he could not instruct counsel in relation to his appeal until after the New Year.

The judge applied the three-stage test for relief from sanctions set out in Denton and others v TH White Ltd and others [2014] EWCA Civ 906 as in Altomart Ltd v Salford Estates (No 2) Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 1408, Moore-Bick LJ held that an application for permission to appeal out of time is analogous to an application under CPR 3.9 and was therefore to be decided in accordance with the same principles.

Mostyn J said that “I do not regard the nine-day delay which accrued over the holiday period as being particularly serious. The reason for the delay was the banal failure of the appellant to check his spam folder. I do not particularly criticise him for that. No injustice is caused to the respondent if I proceed to hear the merits of the appeal.”

Notwithstanding that indulgence was granted here, it is, perhaps, wise for solicitors and litigants to remember to regularly check email spam folders.

Case: Adetoye v Solicitors Regulation Authority [2019] EWHC 707 (Admin) (26 March 2019) (Mostyn J).

Credit to Practical Law