Rodney Etherington had been qualified for 12 years as a solicitor so he should have known better. But he made the mistake of dabbling in a contentious matter that it appears he lacked the competence to deal with. He underestimated the time it would take to make a court application and then felt too embarrassed to admit his mistake to his clients.
Clearly the reason he was struck off was his dishonesty to the clients. However, he had created the awkward position for himself by failing to perceive the limit of his competence. All solicitors are required to learn new things all the time to keep up with the law and to expand their experience. However, many negligence cases arise because a solicitor has advised on an area that they do not have the correct grounding by way of training and experience.
There is no disgrace in telling a client that you cannot advise them or act for them on a particular matter. You can demonstrate that you have their interests at heart by directing them to another solicitor who does have the requisite specialism. Save yourself the stress and grey hairs!
He submitted to the SRA he was a private client lawyer and not a litigation specialist, and was ‘out of his depth’ on this particular case, which was more contentious and difficult than he had experienced before.