The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has rejected the pleas of a formerly suspended practitioner who wanted the chance to run his own firm.
Harjit Singh Kang had ‘put the cart before the horse’ by applying to have all restrictions on his practising certificate lifted before he had proved he was ready, the tribunal said.
Kang, representing himself, was seeking to overturn conditions imposed in 2017 which continue to prevent him practising as a sole practitioner or manager of a firm. He also cannot hold client money or be a signatory on any client account.
The 61-year-old, admitted in 1993, had practised from east London firm H S Kang & Co until 2011 when he was made bankrupt and his PC automatically suspended. He was suspended indefinitely by the tribunal after failing to pay his indemnity insurance premium two years running.
Kang was initially allowed to work as a legal assistant before his suspension was lifted in 2017 – albeit with conditions – as there was no evidence the public would be at risk. Since then he has worked as an associate with east London firm Lillywhite Williams & Co.
During a one-day hearing last month, Kang said he had learned and moved forward from his mistakes, and made ‘strident efforts’ to rehabilitate himself: he now wished to complete that process by having the conditions removed.
His services were in demand and his practice growing, and he now wished to have the option of running his own practice to expand further. He pledged to undertake courses on practice management and solicitors’ accounts and said the tribunal could have confidence that he would not set up without being fully prepared.
The SRA said it held a neutral position but was confident that the likelihood Kang would repeat his previous misconduct was low.
The tribunal, however, was not satisfied that he had done anything to assuage the fear that he still presented a risk. He showed no understanding of up to date practice management skills. It added that ‘there was a difference and distinction between being a good solicitor and a competent manager and head of legal practice’.
Kang was ordered to pay £1,456 costs.