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

Matthew Timothy Sparrow

Application 11895-2018

Admitted 2003

Hearing 23 May 2019

Reasons 18 June 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £5,000.

By making the untrue statement to Birkenhead County Court that the solicitor acting for his opponent in a personal injury claim had agreed an extension of time to file (and serve) the defence to the claim on behalf of his client, which he knew or should have known would tend to mislead the court, he had breached or failed to achieve principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and outcome 5.6 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

By including untrue and misleading information in his file which he knew or should have known would be relied upon by his employer and/or colleagues as confirmation that he had reached an agreement with the solicitor acting for his opponent in a personal injury claim to extend the deadline for him to file (and serve) his client’s defence, he had breached principle 6.

The respondent’s misconduct was as a result of an error on his part.

His mistake had led to his making inaccurate statements to the court, and his former colleague making an application to set judgment aside on the basis of the inaccurate information.

The respondent had been frank and open from the outset. While his conduct had caused harm, the impact was minimal; matters had been settled prior to trial. The respondent had a previously unblemished career and had displayed genuine insight into his conduct.

A fine of £5,000 was the appropriate penalty in the circumstances. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

Muhammad Ifzal

Application 11925-2019

Admitted 2015

Hearing 11 June 2019

Reasons 3 July 2019

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

The respondent had submitted certificates purportedly from BPP University College and which he knew or should have known to be false to the SRA in support of his application for admission to the roll of solicitors, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had submitted an application to the SRA for admission to the roll which contained information which he knew, or should have known, to be untrue, thereby further breaching principles 2, 6 and 7.

He had acted dishonestly.

The respondent’s conduct was motivated by his desire to be admitted to the roll notwithstanding that he had not successfully completed the admission requirements. His actions were planned. He had either created the certificates himself, or arranged for someone to do that on his behalf.

In view of the serious nature of the misconduct, in that it involved dishonesty, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction in order to protect the public, and maintain public confidence in the integrity of the profession and the provision of legal services, was to order that the respondent be struck off the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,644.

Kessar Nabi

Application 11896-2018

Admitted 2008

Hearing 16 May 2019

Reasons 6 June 2019

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

While in practice as a sole practitioner at Nabi Solicitors the respondent had, on 13 client matters, made (i) payments from client account when there were insufficient funds held for the individual clients and (ii) over-transfers or duplicate transfers from client to office account resulting in a shortage of £31,573.97, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rules 20.1 and 9 and 29.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. The respondent had acted dishonestly.

He had failed to replace the shortage of £31,573.97 outstanding on the firm’s client account arising from breaches of the rules, thereby breaching rules 7.1 and 7.2 thereof and principles 2 and 6.

He had failed to carry out any reconciliations from 30 June 2017 until the firm’s intervention on 29 June 2018. Between 30 November 2016 and 30 June 2017 the reconciliations had been completed not as they fell due but around six months after. In so doing he had breached rules 29.12 and 29.13 of the rules.

He had failed to run the business effectively and in accordance with proper governance and sound risk management principles, thereby breaching principles 2, 6 and 8.

He had failed to notify the SRA promptly that the firm was in serious financial difficulty, thereby breaching principle 7 and failing to achieve outcome 10.03 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had failed to cooperate with the SRA with regard to enquiries made by the forensic investigations officer and had failed to produce documents to the FIO throughout the investigation, thereby breaching principle 7 and failing to achieve outcome 10.6.

The misconduct was at the highest level and the only appropriate sanction was a strike-off. There were no exceptional circumstances that would make such an order unjust in the present case.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,380.

Abel Manukyan

Application 11918-2019

Admitted 2013

Hearing 1 July 2019

Reasons 1 July 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £2,500. The respondent had submitted duplicate receipts and claims for taxi journeys to his employer, Fladgate LLP, in breach of principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The parties had requested the SDT deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with the statement of agreed facts and outcome.

While the respondent’s misconduct had arisen as a result of errors he had made, those errors were such that he was culpable for his misconduct which amounted to a breach of principle 6. Members of the public would not expect a solicitor to duplicate claims made for expenses, nor would they expect the claims to be made against the wrong client’s  file.

A financial penalty was appropriate in the matter. The respondent’s misconduct had been assessed as moderately serious. Having determined that the proposed sanction was appropriate and proportionate, the SDT granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

There was no order as to costs.

Alex Rolf Van Der Zwaan

Application 11923-2019

Admitted 2009

Hearing 13 June 2019

Reasons 3 July 2019

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

On 3 November 2017, in an interview with the US Special Counsel’s Office, the respondent had made false statements, contrary to section 1001(a)(2) of Title 18 of the United States Code, in that he did wilfully and knowingly make materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the US. He pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced on 3 April 2018.

He had thereby failed to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice; to act with integrity, in breach of principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2011; or to behave in a way that maintained the trust the public placed in him and the provision of legal services in breach of principle 6. He had acted dishonestly.

The SDT was invited to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts, admissions and outcome.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions were properly made. Having determined that the proposed sanction was appropriate and proportionate, it granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,095.

Ehsan Kabir and Lauren Ruth Anderson

Application 11849-2018 and 11802-2019

Hearings 6-15 March, 3-5, 10-11 and 18 June 2019

Reasons 5 August 2019

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 2013) should be struck off the roll.

It ordered that the second respondent (admitted 2007) should be suspended from practice for 12 months from 18 June 2019, that period of suspension to be suspended for two years from the same date subject to compliance by the second respondent throughout that period with the terms of the following restriction order. For an indefinite period from 18 June 2019 the second respondent might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised body; (ii) practise as a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other recognised body; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; or (iv) work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. If any of those conditions were breached the SDT would activate the 12-month period of suspension in addition to any sanction imposed for the breach of condition(s). If the period of two years under restriction were successfully completed, the suspended suspension from practice of 12 months would cease to have effect. The second respondent might apply to vary the above conditions after three years from 18 June 2019.

The first respondent had given misleading information to the SRA, contrary to principles 2, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

The second respondent had failed to notify the applicant of a material change at the firm, namely that the first respondent had become a director of the firm on 24 June 2014, in breach of principle 7 and rules 8.1(a), 8.5 and 8.7 of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011. The SRA had not been informed of that until 4 June 2015.

The second respondent had conducted reserved legal activities when not authorised to do so and in breach of conditions on her practising certificate, in breach of principles 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7 and rules 1.1 and 4 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011.

The second respondent had conducted reserved legal activities without adequate professional indemnity insurance cover in place to do so, in breach of principles 4, 5, 6 and 7, rule 4.1 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013 and outcome 1.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The second respondent had allowed, and was responsible for, the website ‘www.amcm.co.uk’ to appear online to describe and promote Anderson & Moores Consultancy and Mediation Services Limited, providing misleading information by giving the impression that that company was authorised and regulated by the applicant when it was an unregulated company, thereby breaching principle 6 and failing to achieve outcomes 8.1, 8.4 and 8.5 of the code.

The second respondent had worked as a part-time paralegal at Maya Solicitors and at Masaud Solicitors, and had thereby acted as a solicitor, despite not holding a practising certificate, in breach of principles 1, 6 and 7, rules 1.1 and 4 of the Practice Framework Rules and contrary to section 1 and 1A of the Solicitors Act 1974.

The nature of the first respondent’s dishonesty was that he had misled the regulator, to the extent that at least one of the formal responses provided had been inaccurate. The misconduct was not momentary, as the contradictory statements had been repeated. No exceptional circumstances existed to preclude a strike-off.

The second respondent had not deliberately misled the regulator. Viewed in its totality, her culpability was moderate. There had been no finding of dishonesty or lack of integrity and the breaches, significant as they were, had been inadvertent. Strike-off was neither required nor appropriate.

The two-year period of suspended suspension was adequate and appropriate if combined with an order restricting the second respondent’s practice from areas of higher risk.

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £35,474. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £42,228.

Mark Andrew Fallon

Application 11988-2019

Admitted 2001

Hearing 24 July 2019

Reasons 31 July 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £25,000, and further that he might not be a sole signatory on any client or office account for three years, with liberty to either party to apply to vary that condition.

While in practice as a manager at a recognised body, the respondent had allowed the firm to become involved in a funding arrangement which bore the hallmarks of a dubious investment scheme, in breach of principles 6 and 8 of the SRA Principles 2011.

He had allowed funds to be transferred from the firm’s office account to third parties in purported satisfaction of debts owed by the firm to a lender, in the knowledge that banks had frozen the accounts of individuals and entities associated with the lender, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 8. He had acted recklessly.

He had failed adequately to monitor the funding arrangements for the firm, including loan and other financial arrangements, in breach of principle 8. He had acted recklessly.

He had submitted to the SRA an application for authorisation of the firm which contained misleading information as to the source and the amount of the firm’s external funding, in breach of principles 2, 6 and 7. He had acted recklessly.

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 was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made. His misconduct had been aggravated by his recklessness. He had not put client money at risk.

The proposed fine was a proportionate sanction for the respondent’s misconduct. A restriction on the respondent’s practice relating to his being a sole signatory on any client or office account was necessary to ensure the protection of the public and the reputation of the profession from future harm by him. A restriction for three years was sufficient in order to protect the public and the reputation of the profession.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

Morgan Mark Solicitors

On 19 August 2019, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the above-named sole practice of Aziz-Ur Rehman, based at 16 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 4DL.

The grounds for intervention were: failure to comply with the SRA Principles 2011 which are rules made under section 31 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended); and it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients of Rehman.

James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT; tel: 0207 065 1830; email: intervention-team@devonshires.co.uk; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent. The first date of attendance was 21 August 2019.

Rehman’s practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention.

MHK Solicitors

On 19 August 2019, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the practice of Kirna Devi Madhas, practising at MHK Solicitors Ltd, of 3 Lisbon Square, Leeds LS1 4LY, and into the firm MHK Solicitors Ltd.

The grounds for intervention in relation to Madhas were: there was reason to suspect dishonesty by Madhas in connection with her practice at the firm; Madhas had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011 and SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

The grounds for intervention in relation to MHK Solicitors Ltd were: there was reason to suspect dishonesty by Madhas, a manager of the firm in connection with its business. Madhas, as a manager of the firm, and the firm itself have failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011 and the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

James Dunn of Devonshires Solicitors LLP, 30 Finsbury Circus, London EC2M 7DT, tel: 0207 065 1830, email: intervention-team@devonshires.co.uk; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent. The first date of attendance was 22 August 2019.

Madhas’ practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.

No.1 Solicitors Limited

 On 9 August 2019, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the above-named recognised body, No.1 Solicitors Limited, of 9 Queen Street, Oldham OL1 1UD.

The ground for intervention in relation to No. 1 Solicitors Limited was : it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former or potential clients of the firm – paragraph 32(1)(e) schedule 2, Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Sean Joyce of Stephensons, Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan WN3 5BA; tel. 0333 344 4776; email: sraenquiries@stephensons.co.uk; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.

ST Solicitors LLP

On 23 August 2019 the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into the practice of Sam Themis, practising at ST Solicitors LLP, 8-10 Heralds Way, South Woodham Ferrers, Chelmsford, Essex CM3 5TQ and at Flat 224 Hutton Road, Shenfield, Brentwood, Essex CM15 8PA.

The grounds for intervention in relation to Themis were: there had been a failure by Themis to comply with rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended); it was necessary to protect the interests of Themis’ clients or former clients and any beneficiaries of any trust of which he is or was a trustee.

The grounds for intervention into ST Solicitors LLP were: Themis, as a manager of the firm, and the firm itself had failed to comply with rules applicable to them under section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (as amended); it was necessary to protect the interests of clients or former clients of the firm and the interests of any beneficiaries of any trust of which the firm is or was a trustee.

Susie Dryden of Blake Morgan LLP, New Kings Court, Tollgate, Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh SO53 3LG, tel: 02380 857270, email: interventions@blakemorgan.co.uk, has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent. The first date of attendance was 28 August 2019.

Themis’ practising certificate was suspended as a result of the intervention decision.

AJ Solicitors

 On 29 August 2019, the panel resolved to intervene into the above-named former sole practice of Alfred Awaku Awuah, formerly at Unit 11, Warwick House, Overton Road, London SW9 7JP.

The grounds for intervention were: it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of Awuah’s former clients.

No intervention agent has been appointed. The SRA will be making arrangements to take possession of the archived files.

The intervention letter and notice were served on Awuah on 30 August 2019. Awuah’s practising certificate has not been suspended as a result of the intervention.