Law Soc to pay £135K as solicitor is cleared

The Law Society was last week facing a costs bill of £135,000 as the High Court overturned an intervention into a sole practitioner in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

In February, the Law Society intervened into Ashley & Co, a firm run by Willesden solicitor Anal Sheikh. The intervention meant that Sheikh was suspended from practice as the society took control of her firm, citing breaches of the Solicitors Account Rules and suspected dishonesty.

Sheikh used the Solicitors Act to appeal to the High Court against the intervention, and in June Mr Justice Park ordered that it should be set aside. Despite many previous attempts by solicitors to appeal Law Society interventions, none have succeeded.

In his judgment, handed down on 1 July, Park J said that he could not find reason to suspect Sheikh of dishonesty, and that any breaches of the account rules which may have taken place were not serious enough to warrant an intervention.

The case went forward to a costs hearing last week, where the Law Society was ordered to pay 95 per cent of Sheikh’s £143,000 costs, and refused permission to appeal. Damages are yet to be decided.

Paul Saffron, a partner at RadcliffesLeBrasseur, acted for Sheikh, instructing Gregory Treverton-Jones QC of Farrar’s Building. The Law Society instructed Russell-Cooke, instructing Hodge Malek QC of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square.