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

Harold Anthony Newell

Application 11911-2019

Admitted 1963

Hearing 2-3 July 2019

Reasons 8 August 2019 

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

While in practice as a sole practitioner, trading as TS Barkes & Son, the respondent had made transfers from client to office account in respect of his fees, without providing written notification of the costs incurred and in excess of what was agreed and was fair and reasonable, thereby breaching rules 1.02, 1.04, 1.05 and 1.06 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 and rule 19 of the SRA Accounts Rules 1998, and principles 2, 4, 5, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011 and rules 17.2 and 20.3(b) of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had failed to comply with decisions of the Legal Ombudsman and adjudications of the SRA and the court, thereby breaching principles 2, 5, 6 and 7. 

He had failed to disclose material information to his professional indemnity insurers, thereby breaching principles 2, 6 and 8. He had acted dishonestly. 

The motivation for the respondent’s conduct was to maintain the continuation of his practice and his standing in the community. His misconduct had extended over a significant period of time and was a repeated pattern of behaviour which represented a gross breach of trust.

The misconduct was of the utmost seriousness and that fact, together with the need to protect the reputation of the legal profession, required that the only appropriate sanction was to strike the respondent’s name from the roll. 

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £44,118. 

Harmail Gill

Application 11914-2019

Admitted 1997

Hearing 9-10 July 2019

Reasons 7 August 2019

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £10,000. 

The respondent and his former business partner had breached rules 20.1, 17.7, 20.6, 17.3, 17.9, 14.3, 7.1, 29.12, 29.1, 29.9, 32A.1(a) and (b) and 6 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. By virtue of those breaches, they had also acted in breach of principles 6, 7, 8 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

The respondent and his former business partner (who shared the responsibility of fulfilling the role of compliance officer for finance and administration) had breached rule 8.5(e) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 when they had failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the authorised body G & B Solicitors and its managers and employees complied with any obligations imposed on them under the rules, and to record any such breaches of the rules in the firm’s breaches register. 

In relation to the breaches of the rules referred to above, the respondent had acted with manifest incompetence. 

Further, by transferring funds from the firm’s client account into his personal bank account, in the sums of £350,000 on 14 July 2015 and £50,000 on 30 July 2015, the respondent had acted in breach of principles 6 and 10 and of rule 20.1 of the rules. 

The appropriate sanction was a fine with a starting point of £15,000. The SDT took into account the respondent’s personal mitigation, most significantly the illness and loss of his relative at the material time. Taking into account that aspect together with the character evidence, the fine was reduced to £10,000.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £7,937. 

Sheikh Muhammad Usman

Application 11917-2019

Admitted 2008

Hearing 4 July 2019

Reasons 13 August 2019

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

By virtue of his conviction in the Crown court on 9 April 2019 of conspiracy to do an act to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law by a non-EU person, assisting unlawful immigration contrary to section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971 (as amended), for which he had been sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

There was no suggestion that the respondent’s motivation for the crime had been other than financial. The offence was particularly serious, striking at the heart of the immigration system and undermining public confidence in that system. There was harm to individuals and to the reputation of the profession because of the adverse publicity.

A crime had been committed which was deliberate, calculated and repeated. It was elaborate, sophisticated and had involved a high degree of planning. It had continued over a period of time from 2010 to 2016. As a participant the respondent had concealed his activities, which had only stopped because the criminal activity had been discovered. Vulnerable people had been exploited.

No real insight could be detected into what the respondent had done.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Shashi Gorsia

Application 11943-2019

Admitted 2004

Hearing 18 July 2019

Reasons 23 July 2019

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

On 23 January 2017, the respondent had been found guilty by the Dubai Court of First Instance (Criminal) of attempted theft of two mobile phones taken on 4 October 2016 in the Emirate of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

He had been sentenced to one month’s imprisonment and thereafter immediate deportation. That was confirmed on appeal by the Court of Appeal (Criminal) on 13 March 2017, and an enforcement order was issued against him on 14 March 2017. The respondent had thereby breached principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. 

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

The SDT was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions had been properly made. The parties proposed that he be struck from the roll. The SDT, having determined that the proposed sanction was appropriate and proportionate, granted the application for matters to be resolved by way of the agreed outcome.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £8,500.

Eliot Lopian

Application 11949-2019

Admitted 2009

Hearing 24 July 2019

Reasons 29 July 2019

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

Without their knowledge or authority, the respondent had entered the signatures of Mr P, Mr HS and Mr GS on a form TR1 dated 13 September 2017, transferring the title land identified as Plot A from Mr P, Mr HS and Mr GS to his clients, in breach of principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had acted dishonestly.

He had submitted an application to Her Majesty’s Land Registry which contained information which he knew, or should have known, to be untrue, in breach of principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly. 

In a telephone conversation he had informed the solicitors acting for Mr P, Mr HS and Mr GS that he was unaware how the form TR1 dated 13 September 2017 had been executed, when he had entered the signatures of Mr P, Mr HS and Mr GS himself, in breach of principles 2 and 6. He had acted dishonestly.

The parties 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. Given the serious nature of his misconduct, in that it involved admitted dishonesty, the only appropriate and proportionate sanction was to strike the respondent off the roll. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,500. 

ABM Solicitors & Advocates

On, 23 September 2019 the adjudication panel intervened into the practice of Mahesh Chouhan and into the firm ABM Solicitors & Advocates.

The grounds for intervention into Chouhan’s practice were:

  • He had breached the SRA Principles 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 (paragraph 1(1)(c) of Schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974);
  • It was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients and former clients (paragraph 1(1)(m) of Schedule 1 to the Solicitors Act 1974).

The grounds for intervention into ABM Solicitors & Advocates were:

  • Chouhan, as a manager of the firm, and the firm had failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011 and the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013 which are rules applicable to him and ABM Solicitors & Advocates, under section 9 of the Administration Act 1985 (paragraph 32(1)( a) of Schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985);
  • It was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients and former clients of the firm (paragraph 32(1)(e) of Schedule 2 to the Administration of Justice Act 1985.

Chouhan’s practising certificate was suspended.

The intervention agent is Michael Veal of Lester Aldridge LLP, Russell House, Oxford Road, Bournemouth BH8 8EX, DX: 7623 Bournemouth, tel: 01202 786341; email: interventions@la-law.com.