Who? Nitin Khandhia, 35, commercial litigation partner at Essex firm BTMK.
Why is he in the news? He and his colleague Adam Fleming are acting for clients whose funds (£410,000) intended for buying a house never reached the vendors. As part of the conveyancing process, the clients’ solicitors paid the money to the vendors’ solicitors, London firm Austin Law, but it subsequently became apparent that the money was never passed on to the vendors themselves.
BTMK froze the assets of Austin Law and two other solicitors formerly employed by the firm. Both lawyers and Deidre Newell-Austin, who founded Austin Law, deny any wrongdoing.
Khandhia said his clients have now received ‘substantial help’ from the Compensation Fund, but that ‘proceedings remain ongoing.’
The Solicitors Regulation Authority closed Austin Law in July 2013.
Thoughts on the case: ‘The facts of this matter still astound me. It seems from a client point of view that you not only need to be satisfied that your own lawyers are honest, but also that the other side’s lawyers are honest, too – the SRA has now closed down Austin Law because, it said, “there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Ms Newell-Austin”.
‘Individuals can be reassured that urgent action in obtaining a freezing injunction from the High Court can recover a lot of money on their behalf – in this case more than £250,000.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I watched too many US courtroom dramas.’
Career high: ‘This case. It is very satisfying to do something directly for private individuals who are under extreme stress. Normally, I deal with businesses.’
Career low: ‘It was within days of starting my training contract and I had turned up in court to be asked difficult questions of fact by the judge, which I couldn’t answer. I was forced, for the first and only time, to utter those immortal words: “But it is not my case, sir.”’