The High Court has backed a tribunal’s decision to strike off a solicitor found to have unlawfully used his son’s blue parking badge. In Nazari v Solicitors Regulation Authority Mrs Justice Lang ruled that Wahid Nazari suffered no procedural unfairness when the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal made its decision last year and was capable of representing himself.
The appellant, admitted in 2015, was employed by Carpenters Limited in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. He was spotted by parking inspectors using the blue badge on eight occasions to park close to his office and found guilty on three counts of using a blue badge with intent to deceive. Fining Nazari £1,500, the sentencing judge said the fraud was caused by ‘being lazy and being idle’.
Following his tribunal hearing, Nazari appealed on the basis that the SDT denied him a fair hearing by rejecting an application for an adjournment when he could not find a lawyer to represent him. The judge said the tribunal was entitled to accept the SRA’s submissions that medical evidence put forward as part of the application was ‘inadequate’.
It was accepted that Nazari had caring responsibilities for his wife and son, but the appeal judge said he was ‘employed as a solicitor and not a full-time carer’ and he would have to make arrangements for them to be looked after while a hearing took place. She added: ‘There is no evidence to support the submission that the appellant was denied a fair hearing and suffered injustice. It is common for solicitors to represent themselves at the tribunal, and a practising solicitor, such as the appellant, was capable of doing so effectively.’
The court heard that the SRA’s investigator had recommended that Nazari pay a £2,000 fine but not be referred to the tribunal. This was not accepted by the authorised decision-maker, who referred the case for reconsideration given the elements of intention and deception in Nazari’s case.
The judge added that the appellant could have no legitimate expectation that he would receive no more than a fine and stressed that the investigator was not authorised to make a final decision. She added that the initial report and covering letter ‘were not clear and unambiguous statements’ which could assure Nazari that he would avoid the tribunal.
The judge ordered that Nazari pay the SRA’s £18,000 costs of the appeal, in addition to the £1,000 costs ordered by the tribunal.