International firm Hogan Lovells will not face regulatory action in England and Wales over allegations centring on the firm’s work in South Africa after the Solicitors Regulation Authority ruled the matter fell outside its jurisdiction.
Earlier this year, the firm was accused by Labour peer and former cabinet minister Lord Hain (Peter Hain) walking into a web of ‘corruption and cronyism for a fat fee’.
In parliament, Hain claimed that the firm had enabled ‘a corrupt money launderer to be returned to his post as second-in-command of the critically important South African Revenue Service, SARS’. According to Hain, the firm missed key evidence in preparing a report on alleged financial misconduct by Jonas Makwakwa, deputy chief of the revenue service, and his girlfriend.
In the House of Lords last January, Hain said he had asked the SRA to withdraw the firm’s authorisation as a recognised body and to sanction its senior partners.
However, an SRA spokesperson told the Gazette it had looked into the matter in detail and taken expert legal advice but that the issues raised revolved around work carried out by solicitors that it does not regulate. ‘Therefore, the matter is outside of our jurisdiction. For that reason, we have closed the matter,’ the SRA said.
A Hogan Lovells spokesperson said: ‘This was a piece of work carried out in South Africa for a South African client by South African qualified lawyers and we are pleased that the SRA, with whom we have fully co-operated, agrees with this.
‘The appropriate forum for resolving any dispute is and always has been in South Africa with the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. We proactively brought this matter to the attention of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces when Lord Hain raised his complaint and we are working closely with them. We understand the need for transparency and we are very happy for our work to be scrutinized by the appropriate authorities.’