The Solicitors Regulation Authority has indicated that a couple will be compensated after using the services of a firm closed one month later for alleged dishonesty.
In July last year the SRA closed Deidre Newell-Austin’s firm Austin Law citing ‘reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Ms Newell-Austin’, under paragraph 1(1)(a) of Part I of Schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974.
Zangir and Nazmin Mehrban say that £410,000 they transferred to Austin Law in June last year for handling the purchase of their house never reached the vendors and they now face repossession.
Essex commercial and personal firm BTMK, acting for Zangir and Nazmin Mehrban, froze Newell-Austin’s assets last year. It has brought High Court cases against two solicitors formerly employed by the firm. They deny any involvement.
Nitin Khandhia, a partner at BTMK, said he had been in contact with Newell-Austin and that: ‘The SRA has given an indication that the grant will be agreed.’
He said so far the Mehrbans are expected to receive £375,000 through the SRA’s compensation fund, with the outstanding money also likely to be made up.
The Gazette understands that an announcement is imminent.
Khandhia said: ‘[My clients] were extremely tearful when I told them, but the saga has not finished.’
He said he is aware of one other parallel private action against Austin Law by a bank in Manchester. There are ‘undoubtedly’ other clients affected, he said. Newell-Austin has denied any wrongdoing.
The SRA has received applications for £3.6m apparently missing from client accounts.