SRA allows struck-off solicitor to join firm after opposing return to roll

SRA: Public not put at risk by ex-solicitor’s role

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has allowed a struck-off solicitor to work for a law firm, having successfully opposed his bid to return to the roll earlier this year.

Minesh Ruparelia has been granted permission to work as a consultant for central London firm AP Berkeley under strict conditions.

Mr Ruparelia, who qualified in 1994, was struck off in 2001. His multiple accounts offences included improper withdrawals from the client account, giving misleading information to investigators and failing to cooperate fully with them.

The SRA rejected applications in 2009 and 2011 to allow him to work for London firm Punatar & Co.

The immigration solicitor applied to be restored to the roll earlier this year, with a view to him setting up an immigration practice at Punatar & Co (now called Aca Law), which is predominantly a criminal law practice.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said that, while it could see the work he had done since being struck off – including being a regulated immigration adviser – might show his competence, it did not prove his integrity.

It acknowledged that no finding of dishonesty had been recorded against the solicitor but said this “did not vitiate the seriousness of the misconduct found”.

The SRA opposed restoration, citing the seriousness of the original misconduct and what it considered “the inadequacy of demonstrable rehabilitation to date”.

But a notice published yesterday by the SRA said the regulator has granted AP Berkeley permission to employ Mr Ruparelia as a consultant subject to conditions. It is a firm in Mayfair run by solicitor Paul Roche and barrister Ayesha Qureshi.

The conditions require weekly appraisals of Mr Ruparelia’s work for the first 12 weeks of his employment, moving to monthly thereafter.

He is not to be responsible for the supervision of any other staff, to have no access to any office or client account, not to be a signatory to any office or client account, nor any responsibility for the firm’s accounting functions.

The SRA said it was satisfied that Mr Ruparelia’s new job “will not put public confidence in the administration of justice and the provision of legal services or the interests of clients at risk”.

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