Our last report on the Asons Solicitors (now defunct) / Coops Law (now defunct) saga was published in edition 304 of BC Disease News (here), shortly after Asons’ former Principal Director, Kamran Akram, agreed to the terms of a court order prohibiting him from obtaining a licence to practice, on account of his misconduct.
We can now report that Irfan Khan Akram (Mr. Akram), who was Coops’ non-practising sole owner, Manager and Head of Finance, has been disciplined by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for his involvement in Asons’ controversial successor business.[i]
A SRA decision notice (dated 22 April 2020)[ii] has uncovered that Mr. Akram ‘used Coops’ purchase of Asons … [out of administration, in March 2017] … to undermine and frustrate steps taken by the SRA [to intervene] to protect Asons' clients' interests and the public interest’.
What is more, he played an ‘instrumental role’ in facilitating ‘en masse’ transfer of Asons files to Coops, despite having known, or having ought to have known, that he did not have client authority to do so. This is especially so, as he failed to bestow upon these clients ‘sufficient information’ for them to make an ‘informed decision’ about whether Coops should take over conduct of their cases after Asons was shut down.
In spite of an inherent lack of client consent, Mr. Akram proceeded to move client money from Asons’ client account into Coops’ client account. Adding insult to injury, some of this money was then paid into Coops' office account for ‘costs and disbursements’.
The SRA also disclosed that Mr. Akram allowed an employee, who was under his supervision, to put data protection at risk when he sent a generic bulk email to over 100 Asons clients, without taking precautions to conceal the email addresses of every recipient.
Mr. Akram’s conduct was found to have breached Principles 2, 4, 6, 7 and 10 of the SRA Principles 2011, as well as Rules 14.2 and 19.4 of the SRA Accounts Rules 2011. What is more, he failed to achieve Outcomes 4.5, 7.5 and 9.8 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
As a result of these findings, Mr. Akram was disqualified from holding any role (head of legal practice, head of finance and administration, manager, employee, etc.) in a regulated law firm, pursuant to s.99 of the Legal Services Act 2007. He was also given a written rebuke, fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,350 in costs.
[i] John Hyde, ‘Ex-Coops boss fined £20,000 over Asons transfer’ (23 April 2020 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/ex-coops-boss-fined-20000-over-asons-transfer/5103975.article> accessed 27 April 2020.
Neil Rose, ‘Coops boss sanctioned for frustrating SRA over Asons’ (23 April 2020 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/coops-boss-sanctioned-for-frustrating-sra-over-asons> accessed 27 April 2020.
Joanne Rowe, ‘Law boss 'undermined' efforts to protect former Asons' clients’ (24 April 2020 The Bolton News) <https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18403436.law-boss-undermined-efforts-protect-former-asons-clients/> accessed 27 April 2020.
[ii] ‘Irfan Khan Akram’ (22 April 2020 SRA) <https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/solicitor-check/629417/> accessed 28 April 2020.