Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)

Nato Zondagh

Application 12130-2020

Admitted 2007

Hearing 25-26 January 2021

Reasons 15 February 2021

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

While in practice as a solicitor at Excelsior Solicitors Limited, on or after 11 September 2017, the respondent had failed to register his client MFC Limited’s purchase of a leasehold interest in a property; failed to make payment of the Stamp Duty Land Tax payable in respect of that purchase; misappropriated or otherwise misused sums which his client had paid to the firm in respect of that transaction; and failed to account to his client for sums they had paid to the firm in respect of that transaction, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

On or after 24 August 2017 he had failed to register his client SS’s purchase of a property; failed to make payment of the SDLT payable in respect of that purchase; represented to his client that he had made payment of the SDLT and registered his client’s purchase of the property, when he had not; misappropriated or otherwise misused sums which his client had paid to the firm in respect of that transaction; and failed to account to his client for sums they had paid to the firm in respect of that transaction, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the Principles. He had acted dishonestly.

On or after 4 July 2017, he had misappropriated or otherwise misused sums which his client, MI, had paid to the firm in respect of a proposed property purchase; and failed to account to his client for the sums they had paid to the firm in respect of that transaction; thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the Principles (to the extent that such conduct had occurred before 25 November 2019), and principles 2, 5 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2019, and paragraphs 3.2 and 4.2 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs (the 2019 code) (to the extent that such conduct had occurred on or after 25 November 2019). He had acted dishonestly.

On or after 19 September 2017, he had misappropriated or otherwise misused sums which his firm held in respect of the estate of HM; and failed to account to his client for those monies, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the 2011 Principles. He had acted dishonestly.

On and after 8 November 2018, he had failed to reply to communications from the Solicitors Regulation Authority, his regulator, including requests for information and documents, thereby breaching principle 7 of the 2011 Principles.

The respondent’s misconduct could only be viewed as extremely serious and that fact, together with the need to protect the reputation of the legal profession, required that strike-off from the roll was the only appropriate sanction.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £22,200.

Shazia Anjum

Application 12097-2020

Admitted 2010

Hearings 15-17 September, 19-20 November 2020

Reasons 10 February 2021

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

While practising as a sole practitioner at Premium Law Solicitors Limited, the respondent had caused or allowed one or more improper transfers to be made from the firm’s client account, including ultimately some transfers into bank accounts used by her as personal accounts, which had caused or contributed to shortages in the client account, thereby breaching rules 1.2, 14.1 and 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. She had acted dishonestly.

She had failed to return client funds due to client R after he withdrew his instructions to the firm, thereby breaching rule 14.3 of the rules, and principles 2, 4 and 6.

Contrary to the terms of the intervention into her practice and the firm, which had been explained to her, she had attempted to arrange for client A to make a payment to her into an account other than the firm’s client account or office account, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 7. She had acted dishonestly.

She had failed to deliver up all client files to the intervention agent in accordance with the terms of the intervention into her practice and the firm, which had been explained to her, thereby breaching principles 4 and 7.

She had made representations on the firm’s website and on her business card that she was a barrister, without making it clear that she was not registered to practise as a barrister; thereby failing to achieve outcomes 8.1 and 8.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and breaching principle 6.

In respect of her management of the firm, she had failed to ensure that accounting records were kept, in order to show accurately the position with regard to the money held for each client and trust, and that client account reconciliations were undertaken at least once every five weeks, thereby breaching rules 29.2, 29.9 and 29.12 of the rules and principles 6 and 8.

The respondent’s culpability was high. The fact that an intervention by the applicant had been required had necessarily introduced delay, and therefore harm, to clients of the firm. The harm to the profession from such conduct was also significant.

The misconduct found proved included several different types of misconduct and was aggravated by the fact that two of the allegations included dishonest conduct. The misconduct was deliberate and extended over a considerable period of time.

The respondent had not demonstrated any meaningful insight into her misconduct. No exceptional factors were present such that the normal penalty would not be appropriate.

Having found that the respondent acted dishonestly, the SDT did not consider that a reprimand, fine or suspension were adequate sanctions. The findings against her, including dishonesty, required that the appropriate sanction was strike-off from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £51,954.

Mohammed Imran Hussain

Application 11926-2019

Admitted 2003

Hearing 19 January 2021

Reasons 8 February 2021

The respondent was ordered to pay a fine of £10,000.

The respondent had provided an ambiguous explanation to the SRA in an email dated 22 May 2017, which was capable of being misunderstood, in breach of principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

On or around 18 November 2017, he had engaged in telephone conversations with client A in which he had been abusive, in breach of principles 2 and 6, and of outcome 10.7.

The parties had asked the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions to the allegations had been properly made.

The respondent had admitted breaches, including of principle 2 in respect of conversations with a relative with whom he had a solicitor/client relationship, which was relevant to the seriousness of the allegations.

He had abused the client verbally and had attempted to dissuade the client from continuing his complaint, which was inappropriate. The SDT had noted the respondent’s personal mitigation of illness at the material time.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £6,000.

Bushra Anwar

Application 12132-2020

Admitted 1973

Hearing 14 January 2021

Reasons 5 February 2021

The SDT ordered that the applicant’s application for restoration to the roll should be granted.

In May 1999 the applicant had been struck off the roll, and had made an unsuccessful application for restoration to the roll in 2007. She had now made a further such application.

The case did not involve dishonesty, but it was nevertheless a serious case as evidenced by the decision to strike off the applicant.

The SDT had reviewed the judgments from 1999 and 2007. It noted that a significant period of time had elapsed since the strike-off. The 2007 application had been refused on the basis that the applicant did not have experience of working in a solicitor’s practice, and that the SDT should expect to see that kind of rehabilitation.

With a view to remedy that perceived deficiency, the applicant had applied in 2013 and been granted permission to work for a solicitor’s firm, which she had done for more than six years. She had told the SDT that she had been, with the permission of the SRA, working consistently for firms of solicitors, undertaking civil work and some courses.

The SDT was satisfied that she had demonstrated evidence of being involved in the profession and understanding the importance of documents and of her role. That was what had been lacking when she had made her application in 2007.

The SDT recognised that a significant period of time had since elapsed, and that her maturity and experience of life had increased, as reflected in her legal and voluntary work. The SDT took into account the character references provided on her behalf, including from her most recent employer. There was also evidence of highly satisfied clients.

Restoration of the applicant to the roll would not undermine the profession in the eyes of public. What she had done when young and inexperienced should not blight her for the rest of her life.

The applicant was ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

Gregory Stuart Saunders

Application 12157-2021

Admitted 2000

Hearing 20 January 2021

Reasons 10 February 2021

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

While in practice as a solicitor and member at Clarke Willmott LLP and while acting on behalf of client F, the respondent had made statements to client F about a matter which he was instructed to conduct on behalf of client F which were untrue and misleading, and known by the respondent to be untrue and misleading, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had made a statement to client C regarding the circumstances of a payment of £20,681.09 which was untrue and misleading and known by him to be untrue and misleading, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.

He had misappropriated client money by causing the firm to make a payment of £20,681.09 from the client ledger of client C to firm B, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.

The parties had invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied to the required standard that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

The SDT agreed with the assessment of the seriousness of the misconduct set out in the statement of agreed facts and proposed outcome, and had noted the mitigation including personal mitigation.

Dishonesty had been admitted and such a finding would almost invariably lead to striking off save in exceptional circumstances. The respondent did not seek to claim that there were exceptional circumstances and the SDT had not found any. In all the circumstances, the SDT did not consider that a lesser sanction than strike-off would be appropriate.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £4,600.

Tony Norman Guise

Application 12031-2019

Admitted 1986

Hearing 18-25 January 2021

Reasons 26 February 2021

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.

Between or around 23 July 2014 and 14 August 2015, the respondent had made one or more unauthorised transfers of monies from CLAN Commercial Services Limited, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

Between or around 13 November 2014 and 5 August 2015, he had made one or more unauthorised transfers of monies from the client account of Guise Solicitors Ltd, thereby breaching rule 20.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. He had acted dishonestly.

The respondent was solely culpable for the dishonest misconduct found proved. The entirety of the harm caused to CCS, client A, the public and the reputation of the profession was intentional on the part of the respondent and eminently foreseeable. The misconduct found proved was at the highest level of seriousness.

The appropriate and proportionate sanction was an order striking the respondent off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £55,825.