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

Mohammed Riaz (aka John Washington)
Application 11807-2018
Admitted 2015 
Hearing 12 December 2018
Reasons 31 January 2019

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

On 1 September 2016, the respondent was convicted of committing ‘an act/series of acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice’, thereby breaching principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

Principles 1, 2 and 6 applied to the conduct of solicitors outside their professional practice. 

A conviction such as the respondent’s for a solicitor inevitably represented a failure to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice and to act with integrity, in breach of principles 1 and 2. It involved a striking failure to uphold the ethical standards of the profession which acting with integrity required. 

Such conduct would also undermine the trust placed by the public in the respondent and in the provision of legal services, in breach of principle 6. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,368. 

Sabrina Maini
Application 11830-2018
Admitted 2004 
Hearing 18-19 December 2018
Reasons 8 February 2019

The SDT ordered that the  respondent should pay a fine of £25,000. 

By giving details of her bank account and information regarding money that she owed to her creditors to Mr X, her former client, in circumstances where she ought to have known that he was likely to act to his detriment by making significant payments to her and/or to her creditors if he was provided with that information, the respondent had breached principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

By retaining payments, or the benefit of payments, in the minimum total sum of £75,000 made to her and/or to her creditors by Mr X, she had breached principles 2, 3, 4 and 6. 

By providing misleading information to her employers, she had breached principles 2 and 6. 

The harm caused by the respondent’s actions was mainly to the trust of the public in the profession, and to its reputation. The respondent had not concealed what had happened and, when it was discovered, she had shown insight into what had happened and where she had gone wrong.

The respondent had acted very foolishly in providing her financial information. However, once matters had come to light she came clean within a week. There was no risk of repetition.

While the public would consider what had occurred to be serious, in the particular circumstances a fine would be the proportionate response. It had been one series of events with one client. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,000.

Alexander Zivancevic
Application 11848-2018
Admitted 2005 
Hearing 11 December 2018
Reasons 31 January 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £15,000. By requesting a client of his firm make a payment into his personal bank account and then failing to notify the firm of the payment and failing to transfer the payment to the firm, the respondent had breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

The motivation for the respondent’s request for the payment was to ensure that he and the firm received payment for the work completed before his client left the country. His actions were spontaneous and involved a breach of trust, given that he was the firm’s consultant and that the request for money to be paid into his personal account was highly inappropriate notwithstanding the pressure of circumstances. 

The principal harm caused was to the reputation of the profession. The respondent had not displayed meaningful insight into the inappropriateness of his actions. 

It had been a one-off episode and the respondent had accepted the underlying facts at an early stage when contacted by the applicant. 

A fine was the appropriate sanction. The misconduct was serious and in all of the circumstances a fine within level 3 in the indicative bands contained within the Guidance Note on Sanctions was appropriate. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,750. 

Michelle Mary Maclennan Hind
Application 11791-2018
Admitted 2007 
Hearing 26-27 November 2018
Reasons 25 January 2019

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

Allegations had been made against two other partners at the respondent’s firm. Those additional respondents reached agreed outcomes with the applicant which had been approved on 31 October 2018. 

From 1 December 2013 until 28 November 2016, while a fee-earner at Grant and Hind Solicitors and Redferns Solicitors, the respondent had, in connection with various client matters concerning wills, probate, administration of estates, conveyancing and the administration of client accounts, breached principles 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, rules 1.2(e) and (f), 20.1, 20.3, 20.6, 27.1, 27.2, 29.1, 29.2, 29.12, 29.25 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, and had failed to reach outcomes 1.2 and 3.4 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. 

In respect of some of those matters, the respondent had acted dishonestly.

The motivation for the respondent’s conduct was variously to cover up for deficiencies on her files and systems, to preserve her reputation and in some cases financial gain for close family members. The conduct was often planned and complex, and her culpability was assessed as high. 

Clients had been unaware of actions taken on their behalf and the use to which their funds had been put, and beneficiaries had been kept uninformed of their entitlements. The reputational harm to the profession of such conduct was serious. In view of the seriousness of the failings, the period over which they had occurred and the sheer number of breaches, the harm caused was assessed as high. 

There were no exceptional factors in the case which could render inappropriate the normal penalty of strike-off where there had been dishonesty. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £54,073.