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

Colin Peter Dixon and Justine Leanne Wardle

Application 11875–2018

Hearings 29 April-3 May 2019 and 22 May 2019

Reasons 17 July 2019

The SDT ordered that the first respondent (admitted 1993) should be suspended from practice for six months from 22 May 2019, after which he would be subject indefinitely to the following conditions: that he might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body, or be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.  

The SDT further ordered that from 22 May 2019, except in accordance with Law Society permission, (i) no solicitor should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with his practice as a solicitor; (ii) no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with the solicitor’s practice; (iii) no recognised body should employ or remunerate the second respondent; (iv) no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate the second respondent in connection with the business of that body; (v) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the second respondent to be a manager of the body; and (vi) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit the second respondent to have an interest in the body. 

The first respondent, while in practice as a solicitor at, and a director of, Dixon Law Limited had acted for the operators of a property investment scheme which was dubious and/or bore hallmarks of a fraudulent financial arrangement, thereby breaching principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence.

In respect of conflicts of interest, he had failed to achieve outcome 3.5 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and had breached principles 3 and 6. He had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence. 

In respect of inadequate advice to investor clients, he had breached principles 4 and 6. He had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence.

In respect of accounting records, he had breached rule 29.2 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

He had made improper payments, thereby breaching rules 14.5 and 20 of the rules, and principles 6 and 10. He had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence.

He had improperly attempted to limit the firm’s liability, thereby failing to achieve outcome 1.8 of the code and breaching principles 5 and 6. 

The second respondent, while employed at the firm, had been guilty of conduct of such a nature that, in the opinion of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, it would be undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice, in that she had acted or assisted the first respondent to act for the operators of the scheme and in doing so had breached principle 6. She had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence. 

In respect of conflicts of interest, she had failed to achieve outcome 3.5 of the code and had breached principles 3 and 6. She had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence. 

In respect of inadequate advice to investor clients, she had breached principles 4 and 6. She had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence. 

She had made improper payments, thereby breaching rules 14.5 and 20 of the rules, and principles 6 and 10. She had acted recklessly and with manifest incompetence. 

The first respondent’s involvement was not spontaneous. He had had absolute responsibility as the partner dealing with the scheme and the supervision of a non-admitted fee-earner. While he did not appear to have had day-to-day conduct of the files, he had had direct oversight of them. He had not demonstrated insight. His misconduct was significantly serious.

The second respondent had had the day-to-day conduct of files and was the first point of contact for investors/enquiries into the scheme. She had, on at least one occasion, positively endorsed the scheme to potential investors which had been beyond her remit as a non-admitted fee-earner. 

The first respondent was ordered to pay costs of £58,685. The second respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Nasrin Ali

Application 11920–2019

Admitted 1998

Hearing 23-24 July 2019

Reasons 16 August 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be reprimanded. 

When acting for GV on the sale of his property at 1 Hermitage Road, Manchester M8 5SW, where the respondent and her husband were the purchasers, the respondent had acted where there was an own-interest conflict, or a significant risk of an own-interest conflict, and so had failed to achieve outcome 3.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and breached principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

It was accepted that the respondent was not motivated by personal gain, her actions had been planned but not concealed and there had been no breach of trust. She had had direct control over the transaction and should have known better. However, it having been determined that she had not misled the applicant, her culpability was assessed as low.

No harm had been caused by the respondent’s conduct and there were no aggravating features present.

The seriousness of the respondent’s misconduct was low, highly unlikely to be repeated and as such warranted the imposition of a reprimand.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,710.

Michael Alan Reeves

Application 11973–2019

Admitted 1992

Hearing 15 August 2019

Reasons 23 August 2019

 The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £2,000. 

By virtue of the respondent’s convictions (on 31 March 2018, he was convicted of driving a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, namely 47 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, exceeded the prescribed limit, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988; and on 26 May 2018, he was convicted of driving a motor vehicle after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, namely 66 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, exceeded the prescribed limit, contrary to section 5(1)(a) of the 1988 act and schedule 2 to the 1988 act) he had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The respondent’s motivation for the misconduct was borne out of stupidity and carelessness, as demonstrated by being apprehended twice for driving while over the prescribed limit in a short space of time. 

Direct reputational harm had been caused to the legal profession. His misconduct demonstrated a flagrant disregard of the law. It was fortuitous that no direct harm had been caused to a road user, pedestrian or the respondent himself.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,751.

Sohail Ghani

Application 11910-2019

Admitted 2010

Hearing 2-3 July 2019

Reasons 31 July 2019

The SDT ordered that the allegations against the respondent be dismissed and it further ordered that there should be no order for costs.

The respondent had denied the allegations, which had arisen out of litigation in which he had been involved, and the SDT had found them not proved.

David Marriott

Application 11979–2019

Admitted 1991

Hearing 15 August 2019

Reasons 23 August 2019

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

The respondent had been convicted of two counts of sexual assault on a female, no penetration, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had failed to notify the SRA promptly that he had sexually assaulted paramedic A and paramedic B, that he had been convicted, as set out above, and that he had been sentenced as a result of that conviction, thereby breaching principle 7 and failing to achieve outcome 10.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

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

The respondent’s misconduct was sexually motivated, and while it might well have been initially spontaneous, it had been repeated in respect of a second victim. Both victims in the matter were paramedics who were carrying out a public function and doing their best to assist the respondent. 

It was accepted that at the material time the respondent had been under the influence of alcohol but that did not vitiate his culpability. He had misled his regulator by failing to report his misconduct at any stage during the criminal proceedings.

Considerable harm had been caused to both victims, and there had been significant harm to the legal profession.

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.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £1,000. 

Janson Solicitors

On 25 October 2019, the adjudication panel resolved to intervene into Zahid Ayub Khan, practising as Janson Solicitors of 348 Stratford Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham B11 4AA.

The grounds of intervention were: there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Khan in connection with his practice at Janson Solicitors; Khan had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011.

Marion Vesey of Shacklocks LLP, St Peter’s House, Bridge Street, Mansfield NG18 1AL, tel: 01623 423073, email: interventionjanson@shacklocks.co.uk has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent. The first date of attendance was 29 October 2019.

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