A solicitor who took half of his £20,000 fee for an immigration matter upfront but then did no work and ghosted his client has been struck off.
Qunmber Bin Ehsan also failed to engage at all with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Legal Ombudsman and Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
The SDT said his conduct had been “disgraceful” and was likely to have “a profoundly negative effect on the reputation of the profession and public trust in it”.
Mr Bin Ehsan qualified in 2007 and was sole director of unregulated firm Cavendish Family Office Mayfair Ltd, which was dissolved in June 2019, 17 months after it was incorporated. At the time he was also a consultant at a law firm.
In June 2018, he met with ‘Client A’, who wanted to secure permanent UK residency for her parents as EEA family members. He told her that he and a colleague were very experienced at obtaining permanent residency status in the UK.
The fee would be £20,000, of which £10,000 was required upfront to enable a consultant who was currently in Spain to “get matters moving whilst he is on the ground”. Client A paid it and Mr Bin Ehsan told her that “in the unlikely event that the application is unsuccessful, you will receive a full refund”.
He then proved difficult for Client A to contact but a month later told her that a man called ‘Imran’ was handling her case and gave her his telephone number. However, Imran denied working with Mr Bin Ehsan.
Mr Bin Ehsan did not respond to any further messages from his client over several months.
Imran offered telephone advice, as a result of which Client A paid £7,000 to an individual whom she twice travelled to Spain to meet to sign documents, written in Spanish, that she was told would assist her parents’ application.
They did not, however, and Imran became uncontactable thereafter as well.
The SDT recorded that the totality of the solicitor’s engagement with it, the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman was one email in December 2019, in which he told the SRA that he was on sick leave and would endeavour to respond as soon as possible.
He never did, despite extensive attempts to contact him, including service of a formal document production order by the SRA.
The SDT went ahead with the hearing in his absence and found that Mr Bin Ehsan had failed to fulfil the terms of the retainer or to make the full refund promised in the event the application was unsuccessful, and failed in his duties to co-operate with the regulator and ombudsman.
He was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £21,500.