Decisions filed recently with the Law Society (which may be subject to appeal)
Shama Lalani (née Hussain)
Hearing 2 September 2019
Reasons 13 September 2019
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for five years from 2 September 2019. Upon the expiry of that term of suspension, the respondent should be subject to the following conditions.
She might not (i) practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; (ii) be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice, alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; (iii) be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; (iv) hold client money; (v) be a signatory on any client account; or (vi) work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA, with liberty to apply to vary those conditions.
The respondent had caused, induced or allowed A and B to invest in and enter into an agreement with company A that bore hallmarks of a dubious financial arrangement or investment scheme, thereby breaching rules 1.02, 1.06 and 10.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007, and principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011; and failing to achieve outcome 11.1 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011. She had acted recklessly.
She had used her status as a solicitor to encourage and/or persuade A and B to invest in the scheme with company A, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6, and failing to achieve outcome 11.1. She had acted recklessly.
She had failed to comply with the terms of an undertaking given to B, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6, and failing to achieve outcome 11.2.
During a without prejudice telephone conversation with A and A’s lawyer, she had made offensive and/or abusive comments about A and had falsely claimed to not be a solicitor, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6.
The parties invited the SDT to deal with the allegations against the respondent in accordance with a statement of agreed facts and outcome.
The respondent had genuinely believed that the scheme was a good one: so much so that she had invested her own monies into it. Her conduct appeared to have been a spontaneous response to an opportunity that had presented itself to her. When she became suspicious of the scheme, she reported it to the police and the applicant.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £16,650.
Mohammed Adrees Younis
Hearing 13 August 2019
Reasons 28 August 2019
The SDT ordered the respondent to pay a fine of £7,500.
By knowingly breaching the terms of an injunction dated 1 March 2016, and/or by reason of his having been found to have acted in contempt of court, the respondent had acted in breach of principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.
The respondent had made a promise to his father in advance of the court order. He had subsequently sent copies of certain documents covered by the injunction to his regulator and two law enforcement agencies. He had not done so for personal gain.
All the papers had been returned unread and so no harm had been caused to any individuals. However, harm was inevitably caused to the reputation of the profession when a solicitor breached a court order.
The misconduct was mitigated by the fact that the respondent had self-reported to the SRA. Although he had also applied to purge his own contempt, on the judge’s finding that had not been motivated by a change of heart.
The breach of the injunction was a single episode of very brief duration and the respondent had demonstrated genuine insight and remorse. The incident had taken place in the context of a difficult family dispute.
The seriousness of the misconduct was such that the appropriate sanction was a financial penalty. It did not require the respondent to be suspended or struck off in the particular circumstances of the case.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £4,800.
Hearings 8-9 May, 24 July 2019
Reasons 12 September 2019
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll.
The respondent had practised without authorisation, thereby breaching principles 2, 4, 6 and 7 of the SRA Principles 2011, and rule 1.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011, and had failed to achieve outcomes 1.2 and 1.8 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2011. He had acted dishonestly.
He had misrepresented that ‘GM Law Solicitors’ was an authorised trading-style name and in doing so had breached principles 2, 6 and 7, and failed to achieve outcomes 1.2, 1.7 and 8.4. He had acted dishonestly.
The respondent’s misconduct had evolved out of the circumstances of his removal from the firm and had not, therefore, been pre-planned from the outset. However, over time there had been a greater element of planning. There was no evidence of loss.
While the respondent’s dishonesty was at the lower end of the scale, it was nevertheless still dishonesty and as such was a matter of significant gravity. The dishonesty had not been momentary and the respondent had derived benefit from it. Members of the public might have felt under pressure to pay up, upon receiving a solicitor’s letter requesting payment. In those circumstances the only appropriate sanction was a strike-off.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £24,000.
Hearing 19 August 2019
Reasons 5 September 2019
The SDT dismissed the applicant’s application for revocation of a section 43 order made pursuant to the Solicitors Act 1974 by the SRA.
Following the applicant’s conviction for advertising/offering immigration services when unqualified, for which she had been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, an SRA adjudicator had made an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 that (i) no solicitor should employ or remunerate the applicant in connection with his/her practice as a solicitor; (ii) no employee of a solicitor should employ or remunerate her in connection with the solicitor’s practice; (iii) no recognised body should employ or remunerate her; (iv) no manager or employee of a recognised body should employ or remunerate her in connection with the business of that body; and (v) no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body should permit her to have an interest in the body, except in accordance with Law Society permission.
The applicant’s appeal to an adjudication panel was dismissed, and she appealed to the SDT. The applicant had not challenged her conviction. Her case was that it was not serious enough to warrant a section 43 order.
The submission that the offence was ‘minor’ was rejected. The offence was serious and had the potential to cause significant harm to clients. The consequences of incompetent advice in immigration cases in particular could be grave, and immigration advisers were required to be registered, which the applicant had not been.
There was nothing to indicate that the decision to impose the section 43 order was unjust because of a serious procedural or other irregularity in the proceedings. The application was totally without merit.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,475.