A former conveyancer who allowed mortgage monies to be transferred to conmen has been denied a route back into the profession after five years of sanctions.
Shane Zeb Khattak applied to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to revoke an order from September 2012 preventing him working for any law firm without permission.
Khattak said that he now wanted to be a solicitor and had impressed potential employers, but they had been unwilling to apply for permission to employ him because it would affect their indemnity insurance premiums.
Instead Khattak applied for himself, arguing that the public no longer needed protection from him and that he had been rehabilitated over the past five years.
But the tribunal ruled Khattak lacked the required experience and noted he had not made an application simply to be employed by a law firm: with no track record of working in a law firm he failed to show the public would be properly protected from his return to the profession and his application was refused.
The tribunal heard Khattak had admitted acting in conveyancing transactions that bore hallmarks of mortgage fraud. He acted in transactions in which monies were paid to a fictitious seller’s solicitors, and in one case continued despite having been put on notice of an investigation.
Khattak, who was aged 25 at the time of his misconduct, pointed out there were no allegations of dishonesty and he was not convicted of any criminal offence. He sought removal of the ‘blight’ of the order which meant it was difficult to find work.
Addressing his misconduct, he submitted he had not been in control of the firm’s finances or accounts and was part of a ‘factory conveyancing’ system at his previous firm, which was not named in the judgment but which was confirmed as having closed. Khattak said he was ‘left behind’ while his father, struck off as a solicitor in July 2012, was now working in approved employment.
The tribunal said Khattak required ‘close supervision’ and he would have to complete a period of properly supervised and managed work to have the order revoked.
Khattak was order to pay £500 towards the SRA’s costs, for which the regulator had originally billed £1,500.