“The tribunal found that the respondent had acted dishonestly on numerous occasions in respect of four allegations spanning 2015 and 2020”
A Bradford solicitor who is also a Labour councillor for the Bowling and Barkerend ward has been has been struck off the Roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £25,000.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said: “The tribunal found that the respondent had acted dishonestly on numerous occasions in respect of four allegations spanning 2015 and 2020.
“It further found that she was manifestly incompetent and reckless on numerous occasions over a protracted period of time.
“In light of those findings the tribunal determined that neither a reprimand, financial penalty, restrictions on practice nor a suspension order sufficiently met the seriousness of the misconduct.”
The hearing was told that Rizwana Jamil, who practised from Bradford firm RJ Solicitors, told her client that an immigration application on her behalf was progressing with the Home Office when the application had not even been submitted.
Ms Jamil accepted she had taken instructions on the matter but then asserted she ‘passed the file’ to a paralegal in the firm, claiming that she believed the case was progressing and reassured the client on this basis.
The client became concerned with the lack of progress and it eventually emerged that the Home Office had not received the application, despite Ms Jamil telling her it had been filed.
The tribunal found this explanation ‘disingenuous’, saying that Ms Jamil was the qualified fee earner and not absolved from overall responsibility.
When the SRA began investigating following a complaint from the client, Ms Jamil sent two separate ‘explanations of conduct’. In the second, she again blamed the issue with the Home Office on the same paralegal, saying she had genuinely believed this employee was progressing the case.
By the time the matter came before the tribunal, Ms Jamil said she had been distressed, and panicked when she responded to the SRA and ‘buried her head in the sand and hoped that it would all go away’.
The tribunal said Ms Jamil made a number of false and misleading statements during the course of the SRA investigation, and none of the issues she was going through with the business exonerated her.
Ms Jamil was also found to have wrongly told her indemnity insurer on a renewal form that her firm had received no complaints, when she had been responding to complaints from her immigration client for over a year.
The tribunal found Ms Jamil, a solicitor for 19 years, acted dishonestly on ‘numerous occasions’ spanning 2015 to 2020, and further found she had been ‘manifestly incompetent and reckless over a protracted period. Costs were agreed at £25,000.