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

Lawson Akhigbe

Application 12451-2023

Admitted 2007

Hearing 5 March 2024

Reasons 28 March 2024

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.  

Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal

SDT courtroom

Source: Michael Cross

The respondent had falsely represented to Mrs S, to GT Stewart Solicitors, and to the Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court that Kingsville Law Solicitors Limited was representing Mrs S when it was not. He had thereby breached principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failed to achieve outcome 5.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had practised as a solicitor in breach of rule 1.1 of the

SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011 and thereby breached principle 4.

Having accepted a fixed fee of £250, he had failed without reasonable excuse to take any or adequate steps to respond to GT Stewart’s bill of costs claimed against Mrs S, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 5 and 6.

The respondent had been motivated by personal and financial self-interest to obtain an income stream for himself. His actions were not spontaneous; on the contrary, he had pursued a considered and calculated path in which he caused his client Mrs S, the court, and other solicitors with whom he came into contact to believe he was working for Kingsville Law when he had known that was not the case.

Harm had clearly been caused to his client, Mrs S, upon whom a costs order had been imposed in circumstances where she had not expected it and which he had done nothing to prevent.

To act for her in circumstances where she was not protected by the benefit of insurance was seriously discreditable behaviour on his part. He had acted dishonestly, and his actions had been deliberate and calculated.

It had not been a fleeting or momentary lapse of judgement but had been a course of conduct over months, involving dishonesty, taking a client’s money, and doing very little to improve their situation; on the contrary, he had made it much worse.

The SDT could therefore find no exceptional circumstances in the respondent’s case, and strike off from the roll was the only appropriate sanction.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £20,071.

Mohammed Ekramul Hoque Mazumder, Naser Khan and Salauddin Khan

Application 12455-2023

Hearings 4-15 September 2023, 29 January-2 February 2024

Reasons 24 March 2024

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 2012) should be struck off the roll and that the second respondent (admitted 2018) should pay a fine of £5,000. The SDT made no order against the third respondent (unadmitted paralegal).

While the owner and manager of Heans Solicitors Limited, the first respondent had failed to ensure that the staff at the firm were adequately supervised in relation to judicial review claims and that the firm had effective systems and controls in place in relation to judicial review claims, thereby breaching principles 4, 5, 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcomes 7.2 and 7.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had submitted a witness statement to the High Court, dated 16 May 2019, which contained assertions which were false and misleading, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

He had submitted a witness statement to the High Court, dated 2 July 2019 which contained false and misleading assertions, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

The second respondent had signed an employment contract or purported employment contract for a role with the firm which entailed or purported to entail supervisory responsibilities, when such responsibilities were beyond his level of competence, thereby breaching principle 6.

He had requested that client A transfer money that was intended for the firm to his own personal bank account, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6.

He had inappropriately retained £160 of the money he had received from client A, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6.

The third respondent had been guilty of conduct of such a nature that in the opinion of the SRA it would be undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice in that he, while employed by the firm, had signed a witness statement dated 14 May 2019 intended for the High Court which he had failed to read, thereby breaching principles 1 and 6.

The first respondent’s conduct was aggravated by his proven dishonesty. It was deliberate, calculated and repeated, taking place over a period of time. He had targeted and taken advantage of the third respondent who was vulnerable by virtue of his immigration status and the first respondent’s position of authority over him.

In view of the serious nature of the misconduct, in that it involved dishonesty, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the first respondent off the roll.

The second respondent had deliberately given his own bank details in order to be repaid monies he said he was owed. Such conduct was planned and in breach of the trust placed in him by both the firm and client A. He was an inexperienced solicitor at the time of the misconduct.

His conduct had caused harm to the reputation of the profession and was aggravated by its deliberate nature. He had abused his position as client A’s solicitor to retain monies. He had also sought to blame client A and the first respondent for his conduct for which he was solely responsible.

In mitigation he had returned the monies to client A. His misconduct amounted to single episodes in an otherwise unblemished career.

A financial penalty would adequately reflect the seriousness of the misconduct. A fine of £10,000 was appropriate and proportionate in all the circumstances, but it would be reduced by 50% given the second respondent’s means.

The third respondent had not had the motivation to commit misconduct; he had been coerced into doing so by the first respondent. His actions had been spontaneous, and he had signed the statement under duress. He had had no control over the circumstances.

The third respondent’s culpability was low. Given the particular circumstances, it would be unfair and disproportionate to impose a sanction.

The first respondent was ordered to pay £63,840 costs. The second respondent was ordered to pay £11,970 costs, such order not to be enforced without leave of the SDT.

No order as to costs was made in respect of the third respondent.