This person is allowed to practise as a solicitor, but 'conditions apply' means we restrict what they can do. You can read these restrictions below, in their regulatory record.
- Admitted on 03/05/2011. Annual practising certificate from 01/11/2020.
- Type of lawyer
- Solicitors Regulation Authority
- SRA number
- Regulatory record
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Decision - Agreement
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 15 September 2020
Published date: 26 February 2021
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving rise to outcome
Name: Malik Law Chambers
Address(es): 233 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 6AB
Firm ID: 348326
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
- Mr Om Parkash ('the Respondent') of 110 Crescent Road, London, SE18 7AQ, and formerly employed at the firm trading as Malik Law Chambers ('the Firm') of 233 Bethnal Green Road, London, E2 6AB agrees to the following outcome of the investigation into his professional conduct under reference Solicitors Regulation Authority ('SRA') Reference TRI/1291141-2020.
- Mr Parkash is a solicitor, admitted on 3 May 2011. He joined the Firm at the Firm's Bethnal Green Office as a caseworker on 10 September 2014. He was then a partner and manager at the Firm for the period 1 November 2016 to 2 February 2018, with apparent responsibility for the Firm's Bethnal Green Office. Mr Parkash supervised immigration work carried out by two caseworkers.
- During the period 29 March 2017 to 2 February 2018, he was also the Firm's Compliance Office for Legal Practice ('COLP').
- As part of an investigation into the Firm, on the 29 November 2017, the SRA wrote to Mr Parkash at the Firm's address and served on him (as COLP), and the Firm, production notices pursuant to section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974. The SRA requested information and documentation from him. Mr Parkash, and the Firm, failed to provide the information requested.
- On 6 December 2017, the SRA wrote to Mr Parkash, as the COLP, to inform him that the SRA's Forensic Investigation Officers will be attending the Firm on 13 December to commence an inspection.
- During the inspection the Mr Parkash was away on holiday and was not available to assist the Forensic Investigation Officers.
- On 2 February 2018, Mr Parkash ceased to be a partner/ manager, or the Firm's COLP. He was subsequently an assistant solicitor at the Firm from 3 February 2018 until 18 April 2018.
- On 12 February 2018, the SRA wrote to Mr Parkash and served on him, and the Firm, further production notices pursuant to section 44B of the Solicitors Act 1974. Again, the SRA requested information and documentation from him. By this time, Mr Parkash had resigned as partner and COLP.
- The Forensic Investigation Officers had a discussion with Mr Parkash about the contents of the production notice. They had discussions with Mr Parkash on 8 January 2018, 13 February 2018 and 12 March 2018.
- On 6 April 2018, the Forensic Investigation Officers produced a Report dated 6 April 2018 ('the FI Report'). The Report identified breaches of the SRA Principles 2011, the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 and the SRA Accounts Rules 2011.
- The Report identified serious concerns about the Firm and its owners, Person X and Person Y. There were also concerns identified in relation to misleading information about Person Y, and that he was too ill to attend to the Forensic Investigation Officer's question due to poor health to attend work. However, two employees at the Firm, including Mr Parkash, confirmed that Person Y worked at the Firm regularly and actively worked on client matters.
- In relation to the Firm's finances, there were concerns identified that the Firm operated a number of bank accounts that have not been disclosed to the SRA; and the Firm has failed to provide sufficient information in respect of its books of accounts. Therefore, the Forensic Investigation Officers were unable to confirm whether the Firm held sufficient funds to meet its liabilities to clients.
- On 13 April 2018 the Adjudication Panel decided to intervene into the Firm and also into the practices of Person X and Person Y, the Firm's managers. The intervention was effected on 18 April 2018 and the Firm closed.
- The intervention into the practice of Person X at the Firm were on the following grounds:
- There is a reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Person X in connection with his practice (Paragraph 1(1)(a)(i) Schedule 1 of Solicitors Act);
- Person X has failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, which are rules made under section 31 of the Solicitors Act (Paragraph 1(1)(c) Schedule 1 Solicitors Act);
- Intervention is necessary to protect the interests of clients of Person X or the Firm (Paragraph 1(1)(m) Schedule 1 Solicitors Act);
- The intervention into the practice Person Y at the Firm were on the following grounds:
- There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Person Y in connection with his practice (Paragraph 5(3)(a) Schedule 14 Courts and Legal Services Act);
- Intervention is necessary to protect client interests (Paragraph 5(3)(j) Schedule 14 Courts and Legal Services Act).
- The intervention into the Firm were on the following grounds:
- There is reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Person X and Person Y the Firm's managers, in connection with the Firm's business (Paragraph 32(1)(d)(i) Schedule 2 Administration of Justice Act);
- That the Firm and Person Y, as manager of the Firm, have failed to comply with the SRA Principles 2011, which are rules applicable to the Firm and its managers by virtue of Section 9 of the Administration of Justice Act (Paragraph 32(1)(a) Schedule 2 Administration of Justice Act).
Mr Parkash's position
- Mr Parkash provided the following information to the Forensic Investigation Officers during his discussions with them on 8 January 2018, 13 February 2018 and 12 March 2018:
- He was a salaried partner and COLP but that he reported to Person X and Person Y (8 January 2018 discussion);
- Person Y attended and worked at the Bethnal Green office every day;
- He had never received client money. It was only Person X and Person Y who dealt with client money;
- The Southall office was managed by Person X's son (unadmitted);
- Person X had financial control and decided whether fees should be refunded or not;
- Person X dealt with any complaints that were received by the Firm;
- Person X controlled the Firm and made all the decisions regarding 'hiring and firing'.
- Mr Parkash assisted the Forensic Investigation Officers with their queries as best as he could. However, as he had resigned from his position as partner/manager and or COLP on 2 February 2018, he no access to internal documents. Therefore, he was unable to further assist the Forensic Investigation Officers with their requests.
- Mr Parkash provided the following information to the SRA's Investigator on 6 December 2018, 13 December 2018, and 2 January 2019 (in response to a letter and follow-up emails requesting an explanation of his conduct):
- A witness statement signed by him and dated on 9 February 2017 (which confirms that he is the Office Manager of the Bethnal Green Office and that Person Y is on sick leave) was not drafted nor signed and dated by him. Mr Parkash did not produce it to the SRA nor the SDT;
- Mr Parkash maintains that he did not know that he had been appointed as COLP or as a manager of the firm;
- Mr Parkash became aware of being partner and COLP when he received correspondence from the SRA. When he received an email from the SRA on 29 March 2017 confirming that he was the Firm's COLP he asked Person X about it and Person X said he did not need to do anything and that Person X would do everything that is needed;
- Mr Parkash did not reply to the SRA as Person X said that it was not important and he was a COLP in name only;
- Mr Parkash states he had no access to anything remotely meaningful, records or correspondence, to enable the role of partner and COLP to be fulfilled;
- Person X never discussed or consulted with Mr Parkash before appointing him as COLP and Partner;
- Mr Parkash states that he did not receive a partnership agreement or any form of contract;
- Person X and Person Y had over-arching control of the Firm including his role as partner and COLP;
- Mr Parkash had no real leverage or negotiating position compared to Person X and Person Y;
- Mr Parkash wished to remain in employment and therefore was in a vulnerable position compared to Person X and Person Y;
- Mr Parkash resigned from the position of partner and COLP on 2 February 2018 and informed Person X and asked him to update the SRA;
- Despite his several requests and reminders to be removed from the positions, Person X did not remove the Respondent;
- Mr Parkash updated the SRA of his resignation on 12 February 2018.
- As set out above, the SRA served production notices on Mr Parkash which were not complied with fully and on time. On 13 December 2018, Mr Parkash provided the SRA's Investigation Officer the following reasons for the failure to reply fully or at all:
- He did not receive the production notice dated 29 November 2017. The Firm was personally supervised and managed by Person X who used to keep all the post, mail and parcels and therefore who dealt with all correspondence;
- He did receive the same notice by email on 12 February 2018;
- Even though he was made COLP, in name only, Person X as sole owner of the Firm controlled and operated the day to day administration of the office. Person X was the only responsible person who had the exclusive access and control of all files and documents, finance and all kind of other affairs of the Firm. Mr Parkash told the Forensic Investigation Officers this information when they visited the Firm;
- Mr Parkash has fully co-operated with the SRA and the Forensic Investigation Officers. Whenever the SRA requested information of him, he always forwarded the requests to Person X as he kept everything;
- Person X assured Mr Parkash that he was dealing with the issues raised by the SRA and that he was providing the SRA with the information;
- By the time Mr Parkash received the production notice dated 12 February 2018, he had already resigned from his position as partner/manager and COLP, and therefore had no access to any of the internal systems of the Firm. Therefore, he was unable to further assist the SRA with their requests for information.
- In light of the above, it is the SRA's position that Mr Parkash became aware that he was made COLP of the Firm on or around 29 March 2017 and he was made partner/manager on or around 6 December 2017; and upon this knowledge he and failed to relinquish these appointments COLP and partner/manager which were entirely nominal, and where (as he knew) he was not provided with the access necessary to fulfil these roles effectively.
- In doing so, he breached Principle 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 ('the Principles'); breached Rule 8.5(c)(i) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011; and failed to achieve Outcomes 7.2, and 7.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 ('the Code').
- Principle 8 of the Principles, 'run your business or carry out your role in the business effectively and in accordance with the proper governance and risk management principles. Mr Parkash states that Person Xdid not discuss with him the appointment to COLP and partner/manager. However, once Mr Parkash was aware about this appointment to COLP on or around 29 March 2017 and to partner/manager on or around 6 December 2017, Mr Parkash continued to hold this appointment albeit aware that it was a nominal appointment and that Person X had control of the day to day administration of the Firm and of the finances. Mr Parkash's continuation in this appointment without taking steps to rectify the position with Person X, Person Y or the SRA constitutes a breach of this Principle.
- Rule 8.5(c)(i) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011, 'The COLP of an authorised body must: (i) take all reasonable steps to: (A) ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the authorised body's authorisation except any obligations imposed under the SRA Accounts Rules; (B) ensure compliance with any statutory obligations of the body, its managers, employees or interest holders or the sole practitioner in relation to the body's carrying on of authorised activities; and; (C) record any failure so to comply and make such records available to the SRA on request…'. Mr Parkash has stated that he was not aware that he was made COLP and partner/manager. However, when he became aware of these appointments his continuation in these roles, despite admitting to the SRA that he was informed by Person X that this was a nominal position and that he did not have access to the Firm's internal systems, constituted as a breach of Rule 8.5(c)(i).
- Outcomes 7.2 and 7.3 of the Code, 'you have effective systems and controls in place to achieve and comply with all the Principles, rules and outcomes and other requirements of the Handbook, where applicable' 'you identify, monitor and manage risks to compliance with all the Principles, rules and outcomes and other requirements of the Handbook, if applicable to you, and take steps to address issues identified'. Similarly, as identified in the above paragraph, Mr Parkash knew that he was in these appointed roles in 'name only' thus he knew that he did not have the means, or the access to these means, to ensure that the role could be sufficiently executed. The failure to relinquish this position constituted a breach of the Outcomes.
- Conduct of this nature is capable of unwittingly facilitating the carrying on, or carrying on for longer, of serious misconduct by others.
- Mr Parkash makes, and the SRA accepts, the following admissions: a) Upon becoming aware of these appointments as COLP and partner/manager, of which were entirely nominal, and where he knew he was not provided with the access necessary to fulfil these roles effectively, he failed to relinquish these appointments and continued in the positions until he tendered his resignation. b) He therefore breached Principle 8 of the SRA Principles 2011 ('the Principles'); breached Rule 8.5(c)(i) of the SRA Authorisation Rules 2011; and failed to achieve Outcomes 7.2, and 7.3 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011 ('the Code').
- Mr Parkash has advanced by way of mitigation in respect of the breaches accepted above, which can be found in paragraphs 17 - 20 above (section 'Mr Parkash's position).
- Mr Parkash has accepted the breaches above.
- Mr Parkash has agreed to:
- A written rebuke;
- Conditions imposed on his Practising Certificate prohibiting him from acting as a COLP or COFA, either without SRA permission or without undertaking satisfactory training to understand the relevant obligations of the COLP/COFA role properly;
- Pay the SRA's costs of the investigation into his conduct of £750.00 within 28 days.
- Mr Parkash agrees that this outcome will be published by the SRA and that it may also be disclosed to any person upon request or otherwise.
- Mr Parkash agrees he will not act in any way inconsistent with this agreement by, for example, denying the misconduct admitted above.
- Mr Parkash understands and accepts that if any terms of this agreement are not complied with or if Mr Parkash acts in any way inconsistent with this agreement, then his conduct may be referred to the SDT on the original facts and allegations and also on the basis that he has failed to comply with this Regulatory Settlement Agreement and that this will constitute a breach of Principles 2 and 5 of the SRA Principles 2019 and Paragraph 3.2 of the Code of Conduct for Firms 2019.
- The date of this agreement is date 15 September 2020.