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High Court upholds regulator intervention in sole practitioner firm

24 November 2010

A solicitor whose firm was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority has had her appeal to the High Court rejected.

Sole practitioner Ashoo Dua started proceedings on 12 November but the case was adjourned after the 50 year old collapsed halfway through the hearing, according to eye witnesses.

In a ruling on Friday, Judge Pelling QC upheld the SRA’s decision to intervene on the firm.

The SRA made the decision in November 2009, saying Dua had failed to comply with Solicitors’ Accounting Rules, including deficits in client accounts and breaches of the code of conduct.

Dua argued that the breaches were trivial but the judge said there should be no deficit in client accounts as a matter of principle, and that if the deficiencies had been trivial it would have been unlikely that the accountant who was instructed to examine Dua’s accounts would have included them in his report.

The judge added that the time it took for Dua to remedy the deficiencies was a further indication of the inadequacies of her accounting procedures.

Pelling J also rejected the solicitor’s application to withdraw the intervention and allow Dua to reopen her own firm.

Ashoo Dua & Co was set up in 1994 and offered conveyancing, employment, family, immigration and general litigation services.

Dua’s practising certificate was suspended until January 2010, when she was granted a practising certificate subject to conditions. These banned her from owning or managing a firm and required her to seek the regulator’s prior authorisation before taking up employment as a solicitor.

Dua was also under an obligation to inform prospective employers of these conditions and the reasons they were imposed on her, and to attend a course on accounting for lawyers.

Intervened solicitors rarely appeal to the High Court, and there is only one known case where the applicant succeeded.

Dua is due to appear before the SDT on 8 December.

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