A solicitor fined £5,000 by a judge after being convicted of contempt of court for breaching an injunction has been fined a further £7,500 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
The SDT said Mohammed Adrees Younis’s misconduct came after he was caught up in a “complex family situation” involving his father and uncles.
The tribunal heard that the father launched proceedings in 2015 against his four brothers at the High Court in Leeds over the family businesses, which included Chambers Solicitors, a law firm operated by one of the brothers.
“This led to a longstanding dispute involving the wider family. During the disclosure stage of this claim, it came to light that the respondent’s father had in his possession a large number of documents that were confidential to the defendants.”
The SDT said these had been removed, “allegedly without permission”, from the offices of Chambers.
The law firm was granted was granted an interim injunction on 1 March 2016 preventing Mr Younis’s father or anyone else from disclosing the documents for three weeks.
The following day, in line with a promise he had made to his father before the injunction was granted, Mr Younis made three copies of certain documents covered by the injunction and sent them to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), HM Revenue & Customs and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The SDT said all the papers were returned unread, so there was no harm to individuals, but there was harm to the reputation of the profession.
The tribunal said Mr Younis could have been jailed for contempt and his behaviour was “deliberate”.
However he had self-reported to the SRA and in November 2016 applied to purge his contempt by admitting that he had breached the injunction, either with actual or constructive knowledge.
Mr Justice Norris, sitting in Liverpool, fined Mr Younis £5,000 for contempt in February 2017.
Sentencing the solicitor, Norris J told him that he “chose to defy my order”, knowing in his “heart of hearts” that it had been made.
The judge described Mr Younis’s contempt as “particularly serious” because he was a solicitor, telling him: “You knew exactly what you were doing. You decided to breach your duty to the court to assist in the prosecution of a family dispute.”
Counsel for Mr Younis said he was 37, had been a solicitor for 11 years and was the first member of his family to go to university.
Before the father sued his brothers, Mr Younis was part of a “large, close-knit family”, with 25 family members living together in a “very large” shared property.
The tribunal concluded: “The breach of the injunction was a single episode of very brief duration and the respondent had demonstrated genuine insight and remorse. It was evident from the character references that it was completely out of character.”
Mr Younis admitted breaching SRA principles, including principle 2 (acting with integrity). As well as the fine of £7,500, he was ordered to pay costs of £4,800.