East London ABS the first to specialise in Islamic finance


Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf: Key to attracting mixture of clients

A British PhD student, a Polish accountant and a Brazilian lawyer have come together to form a unique alternative business structure (ABS), the first to specialise in Islamic finance.

Kawa, Guimaraes & Associates Solicitors, based in Canary Wharf, offers services in immigration, family and employment, together with a limited amount of personal injury and medical negligence.

Senior partner Mehedi Rahim, who is finishing a PhD in Islamic law and UK marine insurance, said the firm specialised in finding commercial solutions compliant with Islamic principles.

“We want to have a mix of high net-worth and ordinary clients. I don’t think we can progress as a business if we were on a traditional high street.”

Mr Rahim, a senior paralegal with a background in commercial litigation, said the Isle of Dogs location was also well suited to keeping in touch with Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani communities in East London.

“This is a multi-cultural country and we need to cater for everyone’s needs,” Mr Rahim said. “A significant part of the population would like their businesses to be compliant with their faith, and that’s what we’re doing.

“One of our aims is to try and help businessmen who want to launch faith-compliant insurance. The aim would be to enable clients to make money without compromising their faith. I think I am on the verge of a solution which achieves this.”

Kate Kawa, a Polish accountant, is the chief executive and managing partner of the firm, which obtained an ABS licence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) last month. She met Mr Rahim at Bangor University, where she was studying for a MBA with a specialism in Islamic finance.

Bianca Guimaeres, a Brazilian lawyer, will join Mr Rahim and Ms Kawa as a third partner. Ms Guimaeres, who is awaiting approval as a foreign lawyer from the SRA, will specialise in immigration and family work.

Moynul Islam, a solicitor, is the ABS’s head of legal practice, and of finance and administration. The firm employs two other solicitors, one of them working as a consultant and several other consultants, who work on a fee-sharing basis.

In a separate development, leading East Midlands firm Nelsons has been awarded two ABS licenses by the SRA. Chief executive Tim Hastings said the aim was to give four non-lawyer directors full partner status – the directors of finance, IT, business development and HR.

Mr Hastings said the fact that the firm needed two licences, one for NelsonsLaw LLP and one for Nelsons Solicitors Limited, was a result of the way the firm was structured.

Mr Hastings is the head of finance and administration of both ABSs, while Chris Miller, the firm’s managing partner, is the head of legal practice.

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