A law firm boss whose political career was spiked by a Solicitors Regulation Authority intervention has been suspended from practising as a solicitor for two years. Imran Uddin, who was a Labour candidate for the 2017 general election at the time of closure, was found by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to be responsible for ‘systematic failings’ where his firm ran fraudulent claims.
But Uddin, who submitted his professional and political lives were destroyed by the prosecution, was cleared of dishonesty and the tribunal found he could safely return to practice with restrictions on his practising certificate.
The tribunal said Uddin ‘paid little regard to his duties as the COLP and COFA of the firm and had allowed his personal and political ambitions to supersede his professional obligations as a solicitor’.
His colleague, Muzammil Hussain Abid, who ran the PI department at the London firm Crescent Law, was struck off after a finding he acted dishonestly, motivated by his desire to increase revenue and creating a culture where CMCs were treated ‘as if they were the actual client’.
Prosecution costs of around £76,000 were ordered to be paid between them.
The pair had been charged with causing or allowing the firm to pursue fraudulent PI claims, allowing damages due to clients to be paid to third parties, causing or allowing RTA victims to be harassed or misled about their claim, and failing to supervise employees of the firm.
Uddin, a solicitor for 18 years and senior partner at Crescent Law, was also charged with misleading the firm’s insurer and failing to conduct adequate customer due diligence, while Abid, a solicitor for 11 years and the partner responsible for PI work, was charged with misleading the SRA and failing to make customer checks for a different client. Each was accused of dishonesty, which both denied.
The tribunal heard three insurance firms had complained to the SRA in 2014 and 2015 about Crescent Law’s involvement with PI fraud. One insurer identified 23 cases where claims had been issued for claimants who had not instructed the firm.
Uddin insisted that he did not and could not know if claims were fraudulent as he did not supervise PI work, although he was responsible for overall compliance. He accepted better systems should have been in place and he should have taken a more active role in addressing the issue. The tribunal accepted he was completely unaware of fraudulent practices and found dishonesty not proven on this charge.
Abid also accepted things had gone ‘badly wrong’ in the PI department but denied causing or allowing the firm to pursue fraudulent claims. However, the tribunal found his account to not be credible and said he was ‘fully aware’ of the practices of his department.
The tribunal found no evidence to show either Uddin or Abid were aware of cold calling activities of CMCs supplying the firm with claims.