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Conduct at Bolton solicitors Asons branded 'disgraceful by tribunal

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Misconduct by Bolton law firm Asons was so serious that it caused significant harm to the profession and put clients at risk, a tribunal has ruled.

In May the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal barred Asons' owner Kamran Akram from acting as a solicitor for 18 months after hearing how he had lost control of the firm, which employed up to 250 people and had an annual turnover of more than £11.5 million.

Now the tribunal has published a damning 47-page judgement explaining their reasons for 40-year-old Mr Akram's suspension.

The report states that Mr Akram's conduct was "very concerning" and it describes letters sent by Asons advising some clients to discontinue their claims as "self-serving" and "disgraceful".

Mr Akram admitted that between late 2013 and early 2015 the firm, which acted for people in personal injury claims, had misrepresented the grades of fee earners, allowing the company to falsely claim higher costs for work done.

He also admitted that during the same period the company claimed costs for reviewing files by himself or another legally qualified member of staff when this work had not been done.

And he accepted that his firm had submitted false or exaggerated claims for treatment or losses sustained by personal injury clients.

However, the tribunal found that the actions had been carried out by others in the company, without Mr Akram's knowledge and so, in those cases, he had not acted without integrity and honesty and had not been reckless.

But the tribunal decided that in some cases Mr Akram had put his or his firm's interests ahead of his clients. When bills for costs or special damages were challenged by insurers, Asons had applied to stop representing them and/or had advised clients to discontinue their claims.

"These letters were self-serving and the Tribunal found this to be disgraceful," states the tribunal report.

"It was also not acceptable to abandon a client without informing them just before a hearing."

As a result the tribunal ruled that Mr Akram lacked integrity in this matter and had behaved recklessly.

Mr Akram accepted that he had failed to run his practice, between late 2015 and March 2017, properly and with sound financial and risk management principles.

The case against Mr Akram was brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the tribunal heard how he had formed Asons in 2008.

It quickly grew, and within six years was employing 76 fee earners, 20 of whom were legally qualified.

As the workload grew Robert Collington was taken on, on a salary of up to £80,000 a year, with responsibility for dealing with bills.

Giving evidence, Mr Akram said Mr Collington was responsible for over-grading staff and he had not been aware of the practice until 2015. He added that he had not known his template signature was being used on bills and had considered sacking Mr Collington shortly before the employee resigned in March 2016.

The tribunal accepted his explanation and, stated that Mr Akram's misconduct had been mitigated because "there had been an element of deception on the part of Mr Collington".

However, it decided that Mr Akram's culpability had been high and was too serious for just a fine or reprimand.

The tribunal stated: "The harm caused was significant and took a number of forms. The harm done to the reputation of the profession was significant.

"The inflated bills, brought about by over grading and false claims for special damages put clients at risk.

"The misconduct had been so serious that it had generated complaints from other members of the profession as well as a district judge."

An investigation began into Asons by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority in September 2014 and the firm was closed down in March 2017. Around 250 people lost their jobs.

Barrister Geoffrey Williams QC, representing Mr Akram at the tribunal, stressed that his client had not been dishonest and no clients had lost money.

He told the hearing that Mr Akram feels shame and guilt about employees losing their jobs, has been "brought to his knees" and is now a "broken man".

The full judgement can be viewed by visiting the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal at


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