Gary Bottriell was appointed a non-legal member of the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber in June 2013.
I am a Chartered Financial Planner and Managing Partner of Bottriell Adams LLP, a boutique private client wealth management firm in Wimborne Minster I established in 2004. I had previously held employed positions advising the public since 1986 – before the advent of regulation of the financial services sector.
I have always taken a keen interest in promoting professional standards in financial services and have held various roles for the Chartered Insurance Institute, my professional body. Starting in 1994 as an assistant examiner, I worked though senior examiner roles, deputy chair of the examiners’ committee and finally a member of the professional standards committee of the Institute until standing down through rotation in 2022.
I am a member of the Board of the trade association for the sector, The Personal Investment Management and Financial Advice Association (PIMFA). My role is to emphasise the needs of smaller financial advice firms that face the public, and who are mostly firms that find the demands of a regulator more used to supervising the conduct of massive organisations particularly challenging.
Between 2006 and 2013, I was a member of the Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC), the statutory independent decision maker of the FCA, and was involved in making over 150 decisions against all kinds of financial firms and individuals. These decisions involved removal of permissions, prohibition of individuals, and fines ranging from £200 to £60 million. This period spanned the financial crisis of the late 2000s when all sorts of challenging, and very interesting, issues arose.
Ready to Apply for the Role
The Upper Tribunal is, unusually, the entry venue for references against decisions of the financial regulators (FCA/PRA/TPR) and therefore is technical, covers a very broad range of activities, and most commonly involves the conduct and state of mind of people acting in those regulated entities. All the decisions I made on behalf of the regulator were capable of being referred to the Tribunal and many were. My thirty-year experience at the customer interface through the whole evolution of the regulation of the sector, my involvement with establishing professional qualifications and standards of those active in the sector, and insights into the working of the sector’s regulators, equipped me with the technical background and appreciation of how people behave, and the standards required, in order to make decisions on matters referred to the public judicial system. This lived experience is fundamentally important and is why specialist jurisdictions rely on the non-legal members to provide the context for the permanent judges.
A sense of public duty, and fairness to the applicants, is the primary reason. If a regulated firm or individual feels the regulator has made a bad decision, they deserve to be sure that the determination of the matter is entrusted to people who both understand the law, and the real-world context of the alleged offending behaviour.
I was encouraged by colleagues on the RDC, and from the broader sector community to apply when the JAC opened a competition in 2012. The combination of preparation through a career in the sector, and my peers’ faith in my capabilities provided the confidence to make the application. To a non-legal person the very word ‘Appointments Commission’ sounds very daunting!
The JAC Process
In the end I did not find the process very daunting at all. You simply need to be well prepared, especially in selection of your referees and the self-appraisal you are asked to complete. The process in itself is enlightening, with emphasis on your abilities to be fair, impartial, and rational, as well as probing your knowledge of regulations and the nature of the businesses you will face. It would pay to look at one or two cases before the selection day, both an original FCA decision notice, and the Tribunal’s eventual decision, although you would be wise to keep it to the shorter ones at this stage!
A Fulfilling Role
There are essentially two parties at a hearing, but there is always a third silent player in the room, the customers of the firms who are in dispute with the regulator. In many cases you will have to consider the dynamic of the powerful regulator and often very small firm, whose case is being determined, and that of the regulated firm and its customers who may have suffered harm. Whether your decision comes down in favour of the firm, or the regulator, you will always leave the room feeling confident that you have made the right decision and the future customers of those firms can be confident that they will be treated fairly.
I also know how much regard the regulators have for past Tribunal decisions and pay heed to them. It is especially satisfying when at a hearing counsel refers to past decisions I had a hand in determining.
The Tribunal is based at the Royal Courts of Justice, either in the RJC building itself or the Rolls Building. There is a sense of the importance and gravity of what you are being asked to determine in these Courts. Knowing that if the losing side goes away unhappy, they may well go and argue your decision in the Court of Appeal adds to that sense of performing an important function. Hearings can be long sometimes, so a central London base helps with balancing overnight reading and reflection, and some distracting downtime.
Fitting in with the day job
I am lucky to have a senior team who ensures the firm functions well while I am sitting, which is rarely more than a few days each year, unless a long case comes along. They are supportive of the public service aspects of the role. My customers know they can always speak to me in the margins of the Judicial Day – usually 1030 to 1630 and they are always very understanding when they know the reason I want to speak earlier or later than normal.