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

Ellen Yee-Man Windsor

Application 11808-2018

Admitted 1988

Hearing 15-16 January 2020

Reasons 1 April 2020

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll

While practising as a sole practitioner at Ellen Windsor Solicitors, the respondent had received monies from or on behalf of client CG in various sums totalling £30,000 (the client monies), but had failed to transfer them to and hold them in a client account, thereby breaching rules 1.2(a), 1.2(b), 13.1 and 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011.

She had misappropriated all or any of the client monies, failed to use the client monies for client CG’s matter only; and failed to ensure that the client monies were immediately available to client CG, thereby breaching rules 1.2(c), 7.2 and 13.8 of the rules and principles 2, 4, 6 and 10. She had acted dishonestly.

She had made false or misleading statements to solicitors F concerning the amount of monies held by the firm on behalf of client CG, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

She had failed promptly to return the full client monies to client CG, including upon request, thereby breaching rules 7.2 and/or 14.3 of the rules and principles 2, 4 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

She had made false or misleading statements to client CG concerning the whereabouts of the client monies and when she might return them, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

She had attempted to discourage client CG from reporting or pursuing concerns about her conduct to the applicant and/or the Legal Ombudsman, thereby failing to achieve outcome 10.7 of the code and breaching principles 2 and 6.

The overall seriousness of the misconduct was high: it could not be otherwise given the dishonesty finding. In addition, there were multiple findings that the respondent had lacked integrity, failed to act in her client’s interests and failed to uphold public trust in the provision of legal services. Even without dishonesty, the misconduct would be regarded as very serious.

There were no plausible exceptional circumstances taking into account the nature, scope and extent of the dishonest conduct found proved, so that the appropriate sanction was strike-off from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £33,727.

Jonathan Aubrey

Howard Allweis

Application 11975-2019

Admitted 1993

Hearing 28 February 2020

Reasons 25 March 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £25,000, and that he should be subject to the condition that he might not be a head of legal practice, or compliance officer for legal practice, or a head of finance and administration, or compliance officer for finance and administration, with liberty to either party to apply to vary that condition.

While in practice as a sole practitioner at Allweis & Co, the respondent had entered into an arrangement under which the firm received payment in consideration for allowing Connected Claims Limited (CCL), Allay Claims Limited (ACL) and AirFair Compensation Limited (collectively ‘the CMCs’) to advance compensation claims in the name of the firm, thereby breaching principles 3 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

Having entered into that arrangement, he had allowed the CMCs to advance compensation claims in the name of the firm, thereby breaching principles 3 and 6, and had failed to cause the existence and nature of the agreement to be disclosed to third parties, thereby breaching principles 3 and 6.

He had caused or allowed the firm to receive payments into and make payments from the firm’s client account, in respect of claims which were being handled by the CMCs, and in doing so had allowed the firm’s client account to be used as a banking facility in breach of rule 14.5 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

In the knowledge that a colleague had received advice from the SRA regarding those compensation claims, to the effect that the firm’s involvement in such claims was not compliant with its obligations under the SRA Handbook, he had continued to allow claims to be advanced in the name of the firm by the CMCs; payments to be received into the firm’s client account and paid out to CMCs in purported settlement of such claims; and had continued to cause or allow such sums to be paid to company A, thereby breaching principles 6 and 7.

He had failed to keep a record of amounts held, and payments received and made, in respect of claims advanced by the CMCs, thereby breaching principles 7, 8 and 10, and rules 1.2(f) and 29.2(b) of the SRA Accounts Rules 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 respondent’s motivation had been financial as he had been generating business which would have been intended to create a profit.

A degree of harm had been caused to a small number of individual clients, who had subsequently been compensated. There had been damage to the reputation of the profession, albeit not at the highest level.

The respondent had shown a degree of insight and co-operation with the applicant.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £33,014.

Rahand Raza

Application 12024-2019

Admitted 2015

Hearing 27 February 2020

Reasons 14 April 2020

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

By virtue of his conviction under section 1(2) and (6) of the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, the respondent had breached principles 1, 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. He had been sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to pay compensation (an unlawful profit order) to the landlord of £3,496.

The SDT had found the factual basis of the allegations proved to the requisite standard, namely beyond reasonable doubt, and that the admissions of the respondent to the breaches of the Principles had been properly made.

It was accepted that the respondent had not deliberately set out to cause harm. However, his conduct had caused harm to the wider society. By sub-letting his flat without the consent of the landlord and contrary to the law, he had frustrated its correct and appropriate utilisation as social housing for those in most need, at a time when he himself was not even living in the property. The damage to the reputation of the profession by the respondent’s misconduct was significant.

Having given careful and sympathetic consideration to all the matters raised on the respondent’s behalf, including his state of health, his character references, his work in the profession and the fact that he had no previous disciplinary findings, the SDT had concluded that only limited weight could be given to those factors when evaluated against the inherent seriousness of a conviction for dishonesty and the circumstances of the offence.

Accordingly, while the respondent’s circumstances might have been difficult, they were not ‘exceptional’ and strike-off from the roll was the only appropriate sanction.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £2,472.

Jagjit Kaur Bamrah

Application 12028-2019

Admitted 1999

Hearing 3 March 2020

Reasons 31 March 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £20,000.

[The respondent had sustained an accident and insisted that her firm, of which she was a sole practitioner, represent her in her action against the owner of the premises where the accident had occurred. The allegations related to the respondent’s pursuit of the costs of those proceedings in which liability was admitted.]

The respondent had misled the PI defendant when she had stated, or had allowed her costs lawyers to state on her behalf, in the replies to points of dispute, that before the event legal expenses cover was not available in circumstances when it was.

She had misled the PI defendant when she had certified a bill of costs as accurate when she knew, or ought to have known, that it was not, because the hourly rate applied in it was in excess of that which she (as client) was obliged to pay.

She had accepted an offer of £241 per hour from the PI defendant in circumstances where she knew, or ought to have known, that the offer was based on the inaccurate bill of costs, and thereby breached principle 6 of the SRA Principles 2011.

She had acted recklessly in relation to all of the above.

The SDT had reviewed all the material before it and was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the respondent’s admissions were properly made.

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

There was a high degree of culpability. No client had suffered harm (the respondent was her own client) but another party was involved. Recklessness was a very serious matter. There would be harm to the reputation of the profession.  

The SDT noted that it was a single episode in an otherwise unblemished career and that the respondent had voluntarily reported to the applicant once the issues had arisen.

In all the circumstances, a fine of £20,000 was proportionate and reasonable.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £5,000.

Claire Louise Matthews

Application 12005-2019

Admitted 2017

Hearings 28-30 January, 9 March 2020

Reasons 25 March 2020

The SDT ordered that the respondent should be struck off the roll. The respondent had made untrue statements to CB, a solicitor at Capsticks Solicitors LLP, by informing CB that a locked case containing documents sensitive to a client matter was at home and that she had forgotten it, despite knowing that she was attempting to locate it, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011. She had acted dishonestly.

On 31 May 2018, she had made a statement in an email that was untrue to TL, a partner at Capsticks, by stating that she had left the suitcase on the train ‘this morning when coming into work’, despite knowing that she had left it on the train on the evening of 24 May 2018, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6. She had acted dishonestly.

Despite having left the documents on the train on 24 May 2018, she had failed to inform Capsticks of the loss until 31 May 2018, contrary to the Capsticks’ information security incident reporting, investigation and management policy which required her to report ‘any identified… information security incident, event or near miss as soon as it is identified’, thereby breaching principle 6.

The respondent’s culpability was high. There was no evidence of direct harm to any individual. The extent and burden of the data loss had fallen upon Capsticks and its client, the SRA, who had had to explain the loss of sensitive material to person X and compensate person X for its loss.

The damage to the reputation of the profession was significant as the public would trust a solicitor not to conceal the loss of data by telling untruths to their colleagues and their employer.

Having given very careful consideration to all the matters raised by the respondent including her state of health, her character references and the fact that she had no previous disciplinary findings, the SDT had concluded that only limited weight could be given to those factors when evaluated against the inherent seriousness of findings of dishonesty in the circumstances of the case. It could therefore find no exceptional circumstances, and strike-off from the roll was the only appropriate sanction. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

Peter David Ashcroft

Application 11897-2018

Admitted 1984

Hearing 21-22 January 2020

Reasons 16 April 2020

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

The respondent had failed to comply with court orders on behalf of his clients, thereby breaching principles 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, and failing to achieve outcomes 1.5 and 5.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.

He had conducted litigation on behalf of his clients in insolvency proceedings in the name of AEL Law, when that entity was not authorised by the applicant, thereby breaching principles 2 and 7, and rule 1.1 of the SRA Practice Framework Rules 2011.

He had provided misleading information to the applicant that he had acted for the clients on a ‘family and friends basis’ and/or as a ‘litigation friend’ and had received no remuneration when that was not true, and that he not undertaken any reserved legal activity and was not on the court record as acting for A and B when that was not true, thereby breaching principles 2 and 7. He had acted dishonestly.

He had received a bank transfer for £2,000 from his client’s company into his personal bank account for counsel’s fees in breach of principle 10, and rules 1.2(a) and 14.1 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.

He had failed to act in the best interests of his clients A and B when acting for them in insolvency proceedings without professional indemnity insurance in place, thereby breaching principle 4, rule 4.1 of the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules 2013, and failing to achieve outcome 1.8 of the code.

He had failed to comply with court orders on behalf of his clients, thereby breaching principles 1, 4, 5 and 6, and failing to achieve outcomes 1.5 and 5.3 of the code.

He had conducted litigation on behalf of his clients in a claim for breach of contract and misrepresentation in the name of AEL Law, when that entity was not authorised by the applicant, thereby breaching principles 2 and 7, and rule 1.1 of the Practice Framework Rules.

He had failed to act in the best interests of his clients DN and HN when acting for them in a claim for breach of contract and misrepresentation without professional indemnity insurance in place, thereby breaching principle 4 and rule 4.1 of the Indemnity Insurance Rules, and failing to achieve outcome 1.8 of the code.

The respondent’s culpability was high. Dishonest conduct undermining the reputation of the profession would always cause significant harm.

There were no exceptional circumstances, and the findings against the respondent, including dishonesty, required that his name should be struck from the roll.

The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £14,566.

Jonathan Peter Mounteney

Application 12023-2019

Admitted 1994

Hearing 2 March 2020

Reasons 16 April 2020

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

The allegations had related to the respondent’s conduct while in practice as a solicitor at Hargreaves Mounteney Limited, a firm of solicitors authorised by the SRA, and at Hargreaves Mounteney Trustee Company Limited, a trust company that was authorised by the SRA.

The respondent had denied the allegations and the SDT had found them not proved. It had however noted that the respondent had, by his own admission, engaged in a high-risk area of work. In that environment, a solicitor could expect to come under regulatory scrutiny, and the applicant had properly brought the case. The respondent’s application for costs was therefore refused, as was that of the applicant.

 RJ Solicitors

The adjudication panel has resolved to intervene into the sole practice of Rizwana Jamil practising as RJ Solicitors.

Jamil practised at 1st Floor, 74 Lilycroft Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD9 5AB.

The grounds of intervention were:

  • There was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Jamil in connection with her practice as a solicitor – paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) schedule 1 Solicitors Act 1974.
  • Jamil had breached the SRA Principles 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 – paragraph 1(1)(c) schedule 1 Solicitors Act 1974.

John Owen of Gordons LLP, 1 New Augustus Street, Bradford, West Yorkshire BD1 5LL; email: intervention@gordonsllp.com; tel: 01132272102; has been appointed to act as the Society’s agent.

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