A former owner and manager of Bolton firm Coops Law – the successor practice to the shut-down Asons Solicitors – has been fined £20,000 for his conduct during the transfer of the business.
Irfan Khan Akram, a non-solicitor, was found by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to have used Coops’ purchase of Asons to ‘undermine and frustrate’ steps taken by the regulator to protect clients’ interests and the public interest.
According to a decision notice, Akram played an instrumental role in securing the transfer ‘en masse’ of client files from Asons to Coops when he knew or ought to have known he did not have authority.
Funds were also transferred without clients’ authority, while Akram provided insufficient information to Asons’ clients following the closure of the firm, which did not allow them to make an informed decision about Coops taking over their matter.
The SRA said Akram allowed under his supervision a Coops employee to send a generic email to more than 100 Asons clients, disclosing their email addresses. He also paid ‘lead’ fees to a car hire company in potential breach of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
Akram, who is currently not working in a legal practice, was found to have breached five SRA principles and ordered to pay costs of £1,350.
The sanction is the latest episode in a string of financial and regulatory issues which have sprung out of the management of the personal injury specialist Asons.
Last year, solicitor Munir Majid was suspended for six months after allowing the transfer of around 6,000 client files from Asons to Coops.
In May 2018, former Asons chief executive Kamran Akram was suspended for 18 months after he was found to have caused or permitted the firm to act in circumstances giving rise to a conflict of interest with clients.