Decision - Employee-related decision
Outcome: Control of non-qualified staff (section 43 order)
Outcome date: 11 March 2020
Published date: 17 March 2020
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving rise to outcome
Name: Harwood Solicitors Limited
Address(es): Suite 5, Blackburn Enterprise Centre, Furthergate, Blackburn, BB1 3HQ
Firm ID: 564347
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
To make a section 43 order relating to Mr Khan that with immediate effect:
- no solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with his/her practice as a solicitor;
- no employee of a solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the solicitor's practice;
- no recognised body shall employ or remunerate him;
- no manager or employee of a recognised body shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the business of that body;
- no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body shall permit him to be a manager of the body; and
- no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body shall permit him to have an interest in the body except in accordance with the SRA’s permission.
Mr Khan is ordered to pay £600 in relation to the SRA's costs of investigating this matter.
To summarise, Mr Khan was employed as a paralegal by Harwood Solicitors Limited between 4 January 2016 and 19 January 2018. Mr Khan provided his personal bank account details on one occasion to the other side solicitors and on another to the other side’s insurance company in two separate matters. The insurance company retained the bank details and made five further payments to Mr Khan in error. Money was paid into Mr Khan’s personal bank account as a result. Mr Khan has not reimbursed the firm or insurance company for the payments.
On 9 September 2019 Mr Khan was convicted at Preston Crown Court of three offences of dishonestly making false representations for self-gain. On 17 January 2020 he was sentenced to two years imprisonment suspended for two years. He was ordered to complete 20 days of rehabilitation activity and to pay a statutory surcharge of £140.
The purpose of a section 43 order is to prevent non-solicitors from being employed or remunerated by solicitors and their firms without permission. A section 43 order relates only to individuals who are not solicitors. I am satisfied that Mr Khan is not a solicitor. He has not been admitted to the Roll of Solicitors of England and Wales.
I am also satisfied that, at the relevant time, Mr Khan was involved in a legal practice because he was employed as a paralegal by Harwood which is a recognised body.
The nature of the conviction indicates that it is undesirable for Mr Khan to be involved in a legal practice in one or more of the ways mentioned in subsection 43 (1A) of the Solicitors Act 1974 without prior permission. This is because:
- His conduct was serious and he acted dishonestly.
- His conduct was deliberate and repeated.
- He took advantage of his position as a paralegal in a law firm to benefit himself.
- Mr Khan diverted money that was due to clients and his employer. He therefore presents a risk to clients and their money.
- There is a risk that he could again misappropriate money unless adequately supervised.
- Mr Khan has not responded to the investigation officer and offered any mitigation for his conduct. He did not report the additional payments which Aviva made or return any of the money he wrongfully received.
A section 43 order has a regulatory function, not a penal function. It is there to protect the public from the risk posed by an individual. It is proportionate and necessary to impose a regulatory control over Mr Khan’s work. It is a control that enables the SRA to assure itself that Mr Khan is subject to a satisfactory level of supervision for as long as he requires it.
I am satisfied that the decision to make a section 43 order is an effective regulatory outcome which is sufficient to benefit and protect clients and the public given Mr Khan’s conviction. The order gives the SRA the opportunity to consider properly Mr Khan’s working environment and the degree of support and supervision he may need in any future role.
In accordance with rule 9.2 of the RDPR the decision to make a section 43 order in respect of Mr Khan shall be published when the decision takes effect.