Decision - Agreement
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 18 February 2022
Published date: 21 February 2022
Firm or organisation at date of publication and at time of matters giving rise to outcome
Name: Leopold Wise Solicitors Limited
Address(es): 9-11 Peckover Street, Bradford, BD1 5DB
Firm ID: 644812
This outcome was reached by agreement.
1. Agreed outcome
1.1 Naheem Khaliq, a solicitor, agrees to the following outcome to the investigation of his conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority Limited (SRA):
- he is rebuked
- to the publication of this agreement and
- to pay the costs of the investigation in the sum of £300.
2. Summary of facts
2.1 On 12 July 2021, Mr Khaliq pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the offence of driving a motor vehicle when his alcohol level was above the legal limit, contrary to Section 5(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Act 1998 and Schedule 2 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
2.2 Mr Khaliq was sentenced as follows:
- disqualification from holding or obtaining a licence for 12 months, the period for which would be reduced by 12 weeks upon completion of a drink driving awareness course and
- fined £180.
2.3 He was also directed to pay:
- a victim surcharge of £34 and
- costs of £85.
2.4 Mr Khaliq promptly notified the SRA of his conduct and conviction.
3.1 Mr Khaliq admits, and the SRA accepts, that by virtue of his conduct and conviction, he failed to behave in a way which maintains the trust the public places in him and in the provision of legal services in breach of Principle 2 of the SRA Principles 2019.
4. Why a rebuke is an appropriate outcome
4.1 The SRA’s Enforcement Strategy, and its topic guide on driving with excess alcohol convictions, sets out its approach to the use of its enforcement powers where there has been a failure to meet its standards or requirements.
4.2 When considering the appropriate sanctions and controls in this matter, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by Mr Khaliq and the following mitigation which he has put forward:
- this is an isolated incident, and he has no previous convictions
- he has shown insight into and expressed remorse for his behaviour
- he pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and cooperated fully with the police
- he promptly reported his conviction to the SRA and has cooperated fully with the investigation.
4.3 The SRA and Mr Khaliq consider that a rebuke is the appropriate outcome because:
- there was a disregard to the risk or potential risk of harm and his conduct might have resulted in serious injury and/or damage.
- A public sanction is required to uphold confidence in the delivery of legal services. Any lesser sanction would not provide a credible deterrent to Mr Khaliq and others.
5.1 The SRA considers it appropriate that this agreement is published in the interests of transparency in the regulatory and disciplinary process. Mr Khaliq agrees to the publication of this agreement.
6. Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement
6.1 Mr Khaliq agrees that he will not deny the admissions made in this agreement or act in any way which is inconsistent with it.
6.2 If Mr Khaliq denies the admissions or acts in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement, the conduct which is subject to this agreement may be considered further by the SRA. This may result in a disciplinary outcome or a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on the original facts and allegations and also on the basis that he has failed to comply with the Regulatory Settlement Agreement, which in itself may constitute a breach of Principles 2 and 5 of the SRA Principles 2019 and paragraph 7.3 of the Code of Conduct for Solicitors, RELs and RFLs.
7.1 Mr Khaliq agrees to pay the costs of the SRA’s investigation in the sum of £300, inclusive of VAT and disbursements. Such costs are due within 28 days of a statement of costs being issued by the SRA.