SRA granted civil restraint order against struck-off solicitor

Murray: Transactions bore clear and obvious hallmarks of fraud

The High Court has granted the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) an extended civil restraint order (ECRO) to stop a struck-off solicitor from taking further legal action against it.

Mr Justice Murray held there was “a significant risk” that Farid El Diwany would continue to issue claims and applications over disciplinary action the SRA took again him.

Mr El Diwany was referred to the SRA by his former law firm employer after he disclosed his criminal record in Norway.

He was first convicted in his absence in 2001, and fined the equivalent of about £900, for harassing a Norwegian woman over a period of years, a decision described by the court at the time as lenient.

Two years later, he was convicted again over faxes sent again to various people and organisations with highly personal information about the woman and encouraging them to find out more about her on a website he set up.

He was sentenced to eight months in jail, suspended for two years, subject to him removing the website and not contacting the woman. However, as of the original SDT hearing in December 2019, the website was still live.

He was struck off in December 2019 by the SDT, both for the criminal conviction and his failure to disclose it to the SRA. The SDT found that, while he had been provoked, his reaction had crossed the line, a decision upheld on appeal by Mr Justice Saini.

Mr El Diwany applied to be restored to the roll in August 2021. The SDT refused this in January last year and Murray J then rejected an appeal against this last November.

The judge then made the ECRO the following month but only supplied his reasons for doing so last week.

Counsel for the SRA told the court that judges, solicitor members of the SDT, and certain barristers and solicitors involved in the various proceedings have also been subjected to “abusive conduct” by Mr El Diwany.

Mr El Diwany submitted that “he simply spoke the truth, reprimanding individuals and institutions that are racist and Islamophobic”, Murray J recounted.

In making the order, the judge said he relied on four applications made by Mr El Diwany relating to the disciplinary proceedings which were all certified as totally without merit.

Murray J added: “I am satisfied that it has been objectively established by the evidence before me… that there is a significant risk that Mr El Diwany will continue to issue further claims and/or make further applications in relation to matters arising out of or connected to the SRA disciplinary proceedings that are totally without merit and, therefore, an abuse of the court’s process.”

He noted too that Mr El Diwany had previously been handed a suspended sentence for breaching a restraining order in relation to the then chief executive of the SDT and one of the solicitor members of the SDT panel that made the 2019 Decision.

The ECRO covers anything arising out of the SRA disciplinary proceedings that led to the 2019 SDT decision and lasts for three years.

Murray J added: “In making this order, I wish to make clear that I have no reason to doubt that Mr El Diwany has been the subject of vile Islamophobic abuse in Norway… That unfortunate history, however, is not relevant to my determination of the application.”

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