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

Maria Williams

Application 12081-2020

Admitted 1999

Hearing 14 September 2020

Reasons 17 September 2020

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

The respondent, having accepted £4,500 in cash from client Ms CS in order to discharge counsel’s fees, had retained £2,000 of that money without Ms CS’s authority, failing to pay it into client account, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, and rule 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. She had acted dishonestly.

The respondent had altered a fee note from 18 St John Street Chambers in order to disguise the true date on which payment had been made by her to discharge counsel’s fees, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

In an attempt to conceal her wrongdoing and to prevent the Solicitors Regulation Authority from discovering what she had done, she had contacted Mr John Poyser by way of a text message and asked him to remove from a file of documents to be sent to the SRA the fee note which she had altered, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. She 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 outcome.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied on a balance of probabilities that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

The respondent had admitted three episodes of dishonest conduct over a 16-month period. The first incident was motivated by personal gain and a desire to deprive the client account of funds that should have been deposited therein. The subsequent acts of dishonesty were (a) perpetrated with the intention of covering up her initial dishonest act; (b) planned; (c) premeditated; and (d) self-serving.

Her misconduct had caused irreparable harm to the reputation of the legal profession, breached the fundamental tenet that all solicitors should be capable of being trusted to the ends of the earth, and was incompatible with her continued inclusion on the roll.

In the light of the admitted conduct, the proposed sanction of strike-off was appropriate, proportionate and in accordance with the Sanctions Guidance.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £3,678.

Syed Wasif Ali

Application 12075-2020

Admitted 2007

Hearing 18 August 2020

Reasons 10 September 2020

The SDT ordered the respondent to pay a fine of £60,000, and further that he should, from 18 August 2020 for an indefinite period, be subject to the condition that he might not undertake any work involving applications for judicial review, with liberty to either party to apply to vary that condition. While in practice as a solicitor at Harrow Solicitors, the respondent had:

  • recklessly brought claims which had breached his professional obligations not to make submissions that he did not consider, or ought not to have considered, were properly arguable, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, and failing to achieve outcomes 5.5 and 5.6 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011;
  • recklessly brought claims which were an abuse of process of the court, in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6;
  • recklessly carried out immigration work, by making immigration applications to the Home Office and applications for judicial review to the court, which had no legitimate purpose in that there was no prospect of his client succeeding, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6, and failing to achieve outcome 1.5;
  • failed adequately to advise clients as to the poor merits of their claims, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6, and failing to achieve outcome 1.5;
  • failed adequately to supervise the work of unqualified case handlers, thereby breaching principle 8, and failing to achieve outcomes 7.7 and 7.8; and
  • recklessly been party to applications for British citizenship, and consequential applications for leave to remain, which bore the hallmarks of being an abuse of the immigration system, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6.

There was no evidence of harm to a specific individual. However, the potential for such harm certainly existed in that, by clogging up the system with unarguable judicial reviews that were an abuse of process, consideration of claims that were arguable and had merit had been delayed. There was also harm to the reputation of the legal profession by lodging repeated judicial reviews, which attracted such severe criticism from judges, thereby undermining public trust in the profession and the court system.

The respondent had shown a degree of insight into his failings and had fully cooperated with the SRA, the Hamid procedure and the disciplinary process. [In R (Hamid) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2012] EWHC 3070 (Admin), the court held that ‘late, meritless applications by people who face removal or deportation are an intolerable waste of public money, a great strain on the resources of this court and an abuse of a service this court offers’.]

The appropriate sanction was a financial penalty of £60,000 linked to a restriction on the respondent’s ability to undertake judicial review work for an indefinite period.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £24,800.

Stephen Michael Oakley

Application 12096-2020

Admitted 1985

Hearing 5 August 2020

Reasons 24 August 2020

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

By virtue of his conviction on 16 November 2018 for failing to comply with regulation 7(1)(b) of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, contrary to regulation 45 thereof, when acting for client PP in his purchase of a property with KP, which completed on 26 January 2010 (the criminal offence), he had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted recklessly.

By virtue of his conviction on 17 December 2018 for failing, during the course of the proceedings in which he was convicted of the criminal offence, to surrender to bail on 16 October 2018, contrary to section 6(1) of the Bail Act 1976, he had breached principles 1, 2 and 6.

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 on the balance of probabilities that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made.

While no dishonesty had been alleged against the respondent and he had self-reported as soon as it was permissible for him to do so, he had been reckless and his misconduct had resulted in a criminal conviction, which was a considerable aggravating factor.

The respondent had appeared before the SDT on four previous occasions, albeit all a considerable time ago, the last of them being on 2 November 2011 when he was suspended from practice for three years from 2 November 2011 (ie until 1 November 2014). The events which had led to the present convictions had occurred before that suspension was imposed and the respondent had not practised since. The SDT agreed  that in all the circumstances striking off was a reasonable and proportionate sanction.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

 Mayflower Law Ltd

On 15 October 2020, the Adjudication Panel resolved to intervene into the above-named recognised body and into the practice of Ifeolu Olumide Ogunshakin, based at 8 The Wharf, 16 Bridge Street, Birmingham B1 2JS.

The grounds of intervention into Ogunshakin’s practice were:

  • Failure to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, SRA Accounts Rules 2011, the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, the Accounts Rules (2019), the Code of Conduct for Firms (2019), and the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs (2019) which are rules made under sections 31 and 32 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended) – paragraph 1(1)(c) of schedule 1 to that act; and
  • It was necessary to exercise the powers of intervention to protect the interests of Ogunshakin’s clients (or former clients) – paragraph 1(1)(m) of schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974 (as amended).

The grounds of intervention into Mayflower Law Ltd were:

  • Mayflower Law Ltd and Ogunshakin, as a manager, had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, SRA Accounts Rules 2011, the SRA Code of Conduct 2011, the Accounts Rules (2019), the Code of Conduct for Firms (2019), and the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs (2019) which are rules applicable by virtue of section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 (as amended) – paragraph 32(1)(a) of schedule 2 to that act; and
  • It was necessary to exercise the powers of intervention to protect the interests of clients (or former clients) of Mayflower Law Ltd – paragraph 32(1)(e) of schedule 2 to that act.

Marion Vesey of Shacklocks LLP, St Peter’s House, Bridge Street, Mansfield NG18 1AL; DX: 723580 Mansfield; tel: 01623 423073; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.

The first date of attendance was 19 October 2020.