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Trainee solicitor who charged clients for legal advice handed 18-month suspended jail term

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Training contract disaster

A trainee solicitor has been handed an 18-month suspended prison sentence after providing illegal immigration advice to clients.

Babar Khan of Sydenham, south east London, introduced himself as a solicitor to three clients and submitted immigration applications on their behalf. Employed as a trainee at the firm but operating through his own company called Prime Legal Solicitors, Khan charged fees for his services when not qualified to do so.

His misconduct came to light when a complaint was lodged with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), a government body that regulates immigration advisers.

According to an announcement on the OISC website, Khan appeared at Southwark Crown Court last week and was handed an 18-month custodial sentence (suspended for two years). He was also ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, was disqualified from holding any company directorship for eight years, and was told to cough up £500 in prosecution costs.

Sentencing, Judge Korner QC said Khan had taken advantage of his clients’ desperation by “deliberately” holding himself out to be a solicitor. She said:

Evidence heard in this case shows that you had no qualification whatsoever during the period of your activities, which goes back to 2012. The fact that your company was named Prime Legal Solicitors demonstrates that you intended to deceive people as you deliberately held yourself out to be a solicitor… You took advantage of the desperation and vulnerability of these applicants. This is a seriously dishonest offence that crosses the custody threshold. There are no mitigating factors other than your hitherto good character.

Due to Khan’s trainee status the SRA has been unable to reveal which firm he worked at during the time of the offence. This is because unlike qualified solicitors, trainees’ personal information is subject to the Data Protection Act. However a spokesperson did tell Legal Cheek this:

We are aware of the issue, we have excellent relations with government departments such as OISC, who kept us informed of their work. We will now gather all available information before deciding on an appropriate action.

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