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Solicitor jailed for £158,000 legal aid payment fraud

1 June 2010

A solicitor has been jailed for 12 months, after he admitted submitting fraudulent legal aid bills.

Najaf Shah, who worked for Alexander Solicitors Limited, based in Luton, admitted three counts of fraud at Southwark Crown Court.

The court heard that he falsely obtained £158,000 in legal aid payments, claiming in one case that his firm had carried out 101 prison visits to a client when the real number was 20. He was also accused of billing for work carried out by a colleague who no longer worked for the firm.

Shah argued that he had falsified documents because he lost the originals when his suitcase went missing on holiday.

The prosecution was led by the Courts Service national taxing team, which monitors claims on the legal aid fund in certain Crown Court cases.

“Claims are assessed to ensure they are proportionate and consistent with the rules governing legal aid payments,” a spokeswoman for the Court Service said.

“As this case demonstrates, anyone found to have submitted a fraudulent claim is liable to be prosecuted.”

A spokesman for the SRA said a solicitor who was the subject of a custodial sentence would inevitably be referred to the tribunal.

Alexander Solicitors carries out a wide range of work including crime, immigration, conveyancing, personal injury and family.

Categorised in:

Risk & Compliance Regulators Legal Aid Children