The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has fined an immigration solicitor £60,000 after he admitted lodging “hopeless” judicial review claims and several other regulatory breaches.
The Upper Tribunal referred Syed Wasif Ali of Harrow Solicitors to the Solicitors Regulation Authority in June 2018. The judges had grown concerned about his judicial review record, which had seen 11 dismissed as totally without merit and nine inadmissible for being out of time, out of 36 lodged between January 2017 and March 2018.
The SRA investigated and brought multiple misconduct allegations against Mr Ali. They included lodging claims which were an abuse of process, failing to adequately advise clients about the poor merits of their case and being party to applications “which bore the hallmarks of being an abuse of the immigration system”.
Mr Ali told the tribunal that he “wished to make a clean breast of matters” and admitted all the allegations against him, including charges of “manifest incompetence”. Where recklessness was alleged, he denied it, but the tribunal found against him.
Weighing up the appropriate sanction, the panel noted that
the Respondent knew that these were hopeless cases. He knew or ought to have known that he was in material breach of his obligations.
On the other hand, Mr Ali “had shown a degree of insight into his failings and had fully co-operated with the SRA”. He also had a clean prior record, positive character references and no client complaints.
The tribunal ultimately levied a £60,000 fine plus costs of £24,800, as well as a ban on lodging judicial reviews.