Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Nabeel Amer Sheikh
Hearing 4-8, 20 October and 1 November 2021
Reasons 2 February 2022
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for 12 months from 1 November 2021.
While in practice as the senior partner at Neumans LLP, the respondent had caused a bill of costs and supporting materials (the bill of costs) to be submitted to the Court of Appeal pursuant to a defendant’s costs order made by the Court of Appeal in criminal proceedings brought against client A, which sought payment of £2,916,396 plus VAT, when the bill of costs: (i) made claims as to the work undertaken for client A which did not reflect the work actually undertaken by the firm; and (ii) did not include documents and information which ought properly to have been provided to the court, including, in particular, eight invoices sent by the firm to client A and settled by client A; thereby breaching rules 1.02, 1.06 and 11.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.
The respondent’s culpability was assessed as high. The principal harm was to the reputation of the profession and public trust in it. The events, including the lack of clarity in the context of a claim which inflated the costs due tenfold as a result of a deed of variation, in which a prior cap on fees had been abandoned, played to harmful stereotypes of lawyers seeking to maximise payments from the public purse.
The misconduct was very serious. The protection of the reputation of the profession required that a period of suspension from practice be imposed. A fixed period of suspension of 12 months was the appropriate sanction to punish and deter while being proportionate to the seriousness of the misconduct.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £41,400.