A woman who continued to provide unregulated immigration advice despite being suspended has avoided jail.
Flora Mendes, from Luton, pretended to be a regulated solicitor and practised under the firm name of Arch’s Law – despite the Solicitors Regulation Authority having suspended her in January 2013.
Mendes was convicted in her absence at Luton Magistrates’ Court last week of four counts of providing unregulated immigration advice.
The 37-year-old was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for each offence, to run concurrently, suspended for two years. She is also subject to a curfew order to run seven days a week until 29 August and was ordered to pay £2,325 in compensation and £2,881 in prosecution costs.
District Judge Lee-Smith said Mendes had ‘left a trail of destruction towards vulnerable people she left in her wake’.
Speaking about the sentence, immigration services commissioner Suzanne McCarthy said: ‘Ms Mendes chose to operate outside the law. I am delighted with the outcome of this case.
‘I hope it sends a clear message to other people considering providing immigration advice – either act within the law or you will find yourself in court.’
According to SRA records, Mendes was subject to an SRA intervention in January 2013 because of suspected dishonesty.
The suspension of her practising certificate was lifted in May 2013 on the condition that she could not run a firm again.
The SRA then announced last October she would be called to a hearing before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal to face five allegations.