SRA shuts down law firm after High Court questions fitness to practise

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4 September 2013

SRA: alleged rule breaches

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has closed down an east London law firm less than a month after the High Court questioned its fitness to practise.

The SRA intervened into the practice of Benny Thomas and Syed Tanweer Akhtar at Consilium Chambers LLP and suspended their practising certificates with immediate effect.

Mr Thomas was found in contempt of court following a hearing in relation to emergency, out-of-hours applications to High Court judges for injunctions to stop deportations.

The incoming Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Thomas, and Mr Justice Cranston determined not to take any further action against him in light of their decision to refer the firm to the SRA. They invited the SRA to conduct an “urgent investigation into the firm” and to consider in particular “the firm’s continuing fitness to practise [and] the court’s findings from today’s hearing in relation to the untruthfulness of evidence given by Mr B Thomas to this court and decide what action to take”.

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The SRA would not confirm at this stage whether the decision to intervene was as a direct result of the ruling.

The grounds for intervention were a failure to comply with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011 and the SRA Principles 2011. Further, in relation to both Consilium Chambers and Mr Thomas’s practice, “there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Benny Thomas as a manager of Consilium Chambers LLP in connection with his practice as a solicitor”.

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