Failure to pay up could result in a five-year prison sentence
A solicitor who repeatedly ignored warnings from council bigwigs to stop using his terraced house as an office has been slapped with a £500,000 confiscation order.
Dr Akbar Ali Malik made two planning applications since 2011 to use his home in Southall, west London, as his place of work. Despite the immigration specialist’s requests being rejected by Ealing Council, Dr Malik is said to have continued to practise from the premises, leading to the council issuing an enforcement notice in October 2013 to stop him.
Dr Malik appealed the notice and applied for a certificate of lawfulness to use his home as an office. When his application was rejected by the council, he appealed that too. Ealing News Extra reports that with both appeals being dismissed, the council set a new deadline of October 2015 for compliance with the enforcement notice. Dr Malik is said to have ignored this and continued practising from the property.
As a result, Dr Malik was served with a summons in August 2017, charging him with failing to comply with the enforcement notice. He pleaded guilty to the planning enforcement offence at Ealing Magistrates’ Court in November 2017.
Following a further seven hearings, the long-running case finally concluded last week with a hefty confiscation order. Unless Dr Malik pays the £500,000 within three months, he will receive an automatic five-year prison sentence. He was also fined a further £10,000 and ordered to pay the council’s costs of £13,747.
Councillor Joanna Camadoo-Rothwell, Ealing Council’s lead member for community safety and inclusion said:
“Using a home for business purposes in this way may not sound particularly concerning, but it’s a big problem. In this case, the use of a terraced home as an office detracted from the character of the surrounding area and made living conditions in neighbouring properties miserable, which led to complaints from local people.”
In a separate matter, Dr Malik’s firm, Malik Law Chambers, was shut down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in April 2018. According to the regulator’s notice at the time, the intervention was because there was “reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Dr Akbar Ali Malik and on the part of Mr Imtiaz Ali, the firm’s managers, in connection with the firm’s business”.