An associate who acted for clients in his own time because they could not afford the fees of the firm he worked at has been rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Abdul Barri, who was admitted in 2003, worked at Leeds firm Chapman Dhillon for a year between November 2013 and October 2014, and during that time his clients included three immigration clients.
According to a regulatory settlement agreement published this week by the SRA: “In the course of acting for Mr N, a Mrs S and a Mr K it became apparent that they could not afford the firm’s fees if the firm was to act for them to completion of their matters.
“Mr Barri offered to act for them outside of his practice at the firm. He charged them lower fees than the firm’s would have been. Each of these clients accepted that offer and Mr Barri did some work on their matters outside of his practice with the firm.
“Mr Barri was not authorised to act as a sole practitioner by the SRA and did not have in place any professional indemnity insurance policy in respect of work he did outside of his practice with Chapman Dhillon Solicitors Ltd.”
The SRA said that in deciding to issue a written rebuke, it had taken into account the limited extent of the work Mr Barri undertook, the small number of clients affected, and “the apparent desire of Mr Barri to help potentially vulnerable clients”.
It said the sanction was a “proportionate outcome in the public interest” because Mr Barri’s conduct was “neither trivial nor justifiability inadvertent and/or related to a failure or refusal to ascertain, recognise or comply with the regulated person’s professional or regulatory obligations”.