£10k fine for employed solicitor who held herself out as sole practitioner

Coventry County Court: Solicitor made misleading statements

A solicitor at a City law firm who held herself out as a sole practitioner while helping a person bring county court proceedings has been fined £10,000.

Sundeep Kang worked at Squire Patton Boggs at the time in 2020 when she agreed that ‘Person A’ could name her as their solicitor on an application to the Coventry Court Court.

The application included a statement of truth made by Ms Kang on Person A’s behalf.

But Ms Kang was only authorised to provide reserved legal services through Squire Patton Boggs.

In a regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Ms Kang said Person A prepared the form with her assistance but did not sign the statement of truth; rather, she advised Person A to submit and sign the application form in their own name.

Ms Kang sent a letter to Person B enclosing a notice of acting but was then ordered by a district judge to file and serve a revised notice as the original one contained her personal, rather than professional, contact details.

Ms Kang asserted that she did not receive notice of the order – the court later confirmed that it was only sent to the parties. In the absence of a response by the deadline, the court relisted Person A as a litigant in person.

As Ms Kang’s request, Person A then wrote to the court stating that Ms Kang “is acting on my behalf in her personal capacity as a qualified solicitor and McKenzie Friend. The law firm which she is employed with is not involved”.

Three months later, Person A instructed counsel and Ms Kang had no further involvement.

Ms Kang admitted to making misleading statements to Coventry County Court and not taking “adequate steps to ensure that it was appropriate to refer to herself as a sole practitioner before the application form was submitted”.

The SRA said her conduct was “reckless and demonstrated a disregard of her regulatory obligations”; it had the potential to mislead the court “and prejudice Person B’s position”.

In mitigation, Ms Kang said her conduct was motivated by “compassion” for Person A, caused only a “limited level of disruption” to the proceedings and “did not fundamentally prejudice Person B’s position in the proceedings”.

In deciding a fine was appropriate, the SRA said the admitted conduct was “serious but a referral to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is not necessary in order to maintain the public’s trust in the profession or maintain the professional standards”.

Ms Kang also agreed to pay costs of £4,214.

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