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£500,000 fine for solicitor who turned terraced house into office

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Failure to pay up could result in a five-year prison sentence

Credit: Ealing News Extra

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.

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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”.

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66 Comments

Anonymous

Planning laws really are nonsense.

This type of restriction was invented back in the day to stop people citing a factory or a fat rebdering tallow plant in a normal street – i.e. to prevent businesses that do real and actual harm/nuisance.

Exactly what harm does a high street solicitor do?

Nor will the council be protecting an area of beauty – a quick google map will show that.

Ungrounded in reason or logic, arbitrary, authoritarian but with extreme and severe penalty – everything justice isn’t supposed to be …

Anonymous

Not really:

“made living conditions in neighbouring properties miserable, which led to complaints from local people”

Also, the issue particularly with housing changes of use is that if this is not regulated you could end up with far fewer houses in an area badly in need of housing as these have all been changed to business or other uses. This need for housing is a national issue and local planning authorities play a part in protecting current housing stock.

Anonymous

This post demonstrates an ignorance of the planning system. The policies exist to protect and retain the stock of family dwellings which can be lost to unrestricted sprawl of business or retail use. The use classes are kept under review and Local Authorities are required to review and update their local plans, against which applications and enforcement is measured. It is not out of date. It has nothing to do with ‘beauty’.

The ‘harsh’ sanctions flow not from the planning system per se, but from the criminal justice system. Breach of an enforcement notice is a criminal offence. If you benefit from your criminal conduct you are exposed to a confiscation order to deprive you of that benefit.

It would assist debate to ensure you are informed before posting.

Anonymous

What you don’t mention is that ‘enforcement’ is used to criminalise people in ways that was never intended and thar confiscation orders are used to take not just the benefit received, but from the entire income relating to the activity wrongly being classified as criminal, i.e. without deducting expenses.

It does indeed assist debate to ensure you are informed before posting!

Anonymous

Yes that’s correct, and didn’t need mentioning as it doesn’t take the matter further. It’s trite law that criminals are not entitled to deduct the expenses of running their criminal activities, that would be absurd.

The Court in any event retains a discretion to reduce the totality of the award as it sees fit.

Enforcement only criminalises so far as the legislation specifically states. It does not create any unintentional criminality and it’s bizarre to suggest that’s the case.

Anonymous

No, you’re wrong. It would be absurd to confiscate revenue without taking into account expenses – this would be to confiscate a benefit which was never received.

The case here is a civil matter – just labelling something as criminal doesn’t make it so. By using PACO in cases like this, legitimate activities are being criminalised and people wrongly branded criminals in ways that was never intended.

Anonymous

Have you actually read the legislation?

s.179 Town and County Planning Act 1990 makes it an either way offence to breach an enforcement notice. It’s 100% criminal. The case of Del Basso specifically approved POCA for these cases.

So, contrary the what you say, it is criminal. You can’t make it civil by just calling it civil….

Anonymous

But where is the harm????

This is a peaceful area in which peacefuls live and work!!!!

The business seek to bring in more peaceful persons and have them exercise their rights in peace!!!!

UK needs more peaceful!

Anonymous

Another career lost.

Anonymous

Thrown away more like.

Anonymous

Pierre2

I’m quite familiar with what’s been going on with Malik Law Chambers and its successor organisations as well as the “intervention” by Devonshire’s, having sent various clients their way over the years.

Dr. Malik is no angel without a doubt, but this all ultimately had to do with the “hostile environment” policies of the Government and their targeting prominent immigration firms particularly in more ethnic areas. The intervention was baseless given what goes on elsewhere or indeed just down the road from their old offices in some (to remain nameless) landlord-tenant and commercial practices, which interestingly the SRA doesn’t seem to give a toss about.

What isn’t often discussed is the destruction and disappearance of client files (including passports) by presumably the intervening firm and deportations of people with fully legitimate claims, based on lack of documents.

I would wager that the complaints made to the Council were entirely vexatious and concocted in this instance.

Anonymous

The quoted councillor is from the Labour party …

It’s a bit of a stretch to pretend this is a conspiracy from a Tory government – particularly given how we can all see the Tory government isn’t functioning and would fail in a concerted plan to change the napkins at no.10 right now …

Pierre2

This has been going on since when May was HS. Malik, crooks as though they are, were very good at getting their immigration appeals and JRs through.

I deal mainly with the Carribbean and other francophone community and tend not to do much immigration work and put this kind of thing to other firms inc. Malik.

There were informal warnings prior to the intervention, indeed feeding back to me from clients, who were being “ethnically steered” so to speak from Malik by the HO etc. and which in one instance took the form of them stating that it was a firm for “pak|s” which “we are doing something about” and to “go somewhere else”.

Anonymous

This still does not show any signs of a Conservative-Labour-SRA conspiracy against this particular solicitor. I prefer to stick to the Occam’s razor principle in this case.

Pierre2

The SRA is rotten. Have absolutely no doubts about it.

Anonymous

Malik has joined the conversation…

Anonymous

And so has Councillor Camadoo-Rothwell…

Anonymous

How much would a serviced office or lease on a small office have cost by comparison? Definitely sounds like he fought the council when an easier alternative was available.

Anonymous

No way will she be permitted, I’d say her best bet is the bar, SRA would have none of that crap.

Anonymous

No. That’s not what the article says. She doesn’t have a degree. Hasn’t passed the LPC or BVTC doesn’t have pupillage or a training contract and hasn’t been given permission by either the BSB or SRA to be admitted. But apart from that you are spot on. It says she is planning to be a lawyer. Anyone can plan. Planning to learn to read is not the same as being able to read.

Anonymous

Actually she has an undergrad 1st from oxford by virtue of completing the first 3 years of her degree.
For better or for worse, she is only 3 years (Gdl + bvtc + pupillage) away from being a qualified barrister – and unfortunately she does have one massive advantage, the Oxbridge first

Anonymous

And the bsb has let Henry mostyn back into the profession, after a much worse offence then lavinia’s

Anonymous

Whoops Henry hendron.
Henry mostyn did fuck all wrong by comparison

A woman

You cant compare henry hendron and lavinia woodward – 2 totally different things.

henry hendron – recreational drug use gone horribly wrong.

lavina woodward – intentional beating of her boyfriend (an intimate / close relationship) with a laptop, jar and then stabbed him with a knife. This is domestic violence. She is a manipulative pitchfork and totally evaded legal process by stating that she was clever. Well done for that. I can see why she thinks this is now a legitimate career move.

Anonymous

I’d seriously and happily put money on it happening.

A notorious manipulator, Upper Middle Class name, attractive enough that the recruitment panel wouldn’t kick her out of bed and has the villa in Italy already.

Yep, that wins the Commercial Bar bingo!

Simon

Another Lawyer with no scruples and no soul.
Thinking he is immune to the rules that are there for everyone.
Corrupt lawyers that used to be solely in the USA are much of a concern hear now.
I haven’t seen an honest one in years. All greed, no empathy and many lacking in any form of intelligence.
75 to 90 percent of USA trial lawyers are incompetent, dishonest.
This was quoted by the Supreme Court justice in USA.
Find a lawyer drowning, and see the person not willing to take his foot of his head.

Anonymous

U ok hun?

Anonymous

Msg me bbe x

Simon

I have met 18 corrupt lawyers, 4 corrupt Barristers. All 34 to 54. (Must be a corrupt age thing).
All will to do anything or change evidence to suit a particular case.
All following what was told to by insurance companies.
Legal system is messed up where this can happen.

Anonymous

Wow. You are really unlucky. Everyone is corrupt except you. Could it be that your case was bollocks?

Anonymous

Do you lead a list of these people, like Arya Stark?

Anonymous

Lawyers under 34 aren’t senior enough to have the opportunity to be corrupt. By 54, the corrupt ones have made enough they can retire

Andon

@ Simon.

You are remarkably precise about their ages.

Are you saying that out of all the lawyers you have met, 22 of them were corrupt or were you saying all of the 22 lawyers you have met have been corrupt ?

The fact that you erroneously distinguish between lawyers and barristers suggests you are a lay person.

The fact that you met so many and you considered them to be corrupt strongly suggests you are one of those nutty disgruntled vexatious litigants in person who thinks that any judge or lawyer who won’t dance to their tune is taking bribes or a Freemason, or both.

Anonymous

As opposed to nutty lawyers who don’t recognise the bias the courts show to litigants in person.

Anonymous

Did someone call Dial-A-Knob?

Anonymous

2 rite bratha – y we need NO DEAL

Anonymous

Comments being deleted again, how boring….

Simon

Why didn’t he get a double decker bus or a camper van like normal people.
But no, he though he could play with the Law like most do.
Make the exams for lawyers more difficult again and make them take a psychotic, greed not to rip of and empathy tests..

Anonymous

As a barrister who operates out of a double decker bus, I wholeheartedly agree.

Anonymous

One and a half to the Aldwych please.

Rufus

I think they mean Southall not Southwall

Anonymous

5 years is a bit police state, its not as if he did anything violent. This is essentially a civil matter.

Anonymous

No it is for non-payment of a POCA order, which is a criminal matter made following a conviction in a criminal court. The clue is in the name: Proceeds of Crime Act.

Anonymous

Not much of a clue though – merely naming something doesn’t make the subject that thing. What was the ‘crime’ which the POCA relates to – because it sounds like a civil matter to me.

Andon

Oddly for someone on a legal forum you don’t appear to know much law.

Breach of a planning enforcement notice is a criminal offence, to which he pleaded guilty.

If someone has made money by committing the offence, say, by running a profitable business from an office which is being operated from a house in breach of a planning enforcement notice, then confiscation proceedings may follow under POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act 2002).

During the confiscation proceedings the court looks into out how much gain they have made from their crime and how much money they have available to confiscate.

The sum which they are ordered to pay (which cannot be greater than the amount they have available) has to be paid within a certain period of time or they serve a prison sentence in default.

I haven’t done a POCA case for ages, so I may have some of the detail wrong, but that is the general gist.

Anonymous

Oddly (or perhaps not) for someone who has so much to say on a legal forum, you don’t seem to have much in-depth knowledge or common sense.

POCA is intended for serious organised crime, not tinpot local councils trying to throw their weight around. Planning is essentially a civil matter, jail sentences of any sort, never mind five years, for breaches, are entirely inappropriate.

Anonymous

You should familiarise yourself with the case of R v Del Basso. Clear authority that POCA is entirely appropriate for offences of this nature. And this is a criminal offence see s179 TCPA 1990.
The idea it is civil is nonsense.

There is no law or policy to suggest POCA is only for serious organised crime, such restrictions do not appear in the legislation or decided case law.

Local Authorities play a vital role in local law enforcement across a broad regulatory framework. Recovery of criminal benefit made in breach of the framework allows the authority to reinvest in prevention, detection and enforcement for the greater public good.

Just think of the importance of local Trading Standards as a starting point. All local authority funded and plays a vital role. Their work is supported by reinvestment from confiscation orders such as this.

Anonymous

Yes, and what a bad decision R v Del Basso was, using PACO for a purpose for which it was never intended. PACO is to combat organised crime, not for use in civil matters like planning disputes.

That isn’t to say that councils can’t use the civil courts to claim damages, but they can’t use criminal law to raise money in this way. After all, its not a crime to practice as an immigration solicitor.

Anonymous

No it isn’t. The Court is obliged to make a POCA order in any case where there has been a financil benefit from the crime. If you steal a Mars Bar worth £1, your benefit from Crime is £1 and the Court must not may (no discretion) make a POCA order. In practice they will make a Compensation Order or make a POCA order with 1 day in custody (already served waiting in Court to be called on). Its a very unfair piece of legislation. As an EG: Steal a gold bar worth £30k, walk straight into the arms of the police who give the gold bar back to the owner, your benefit from crime is £30k and if you have assests worth £30k the state will take them under a POCA order.

He committed an offence and over the time the offence was committed make £500k in turnover as a result (note benefit under POCA is the turnover not the profit from the crime). Good luck with your submission that the Court does not have to apply an Act of Parliment as it is silly or unfair. I completley agree it is both. Doesn’t change the fact that it the law as enacted by Parliment.

Anonymous

That’s not how the law was intended to be used – POCA was intended for serious and organised crimes – not for stealing Mars bars or people running businesses from home. You’re right that the law is silly and unfair, but it is also being misinterpreted and misused by the courts.

Do you have actual cases where POCA was used for the theft of a Mars Bar or the gold bar example, the latter of which sounds non-compliant with human rights law?

Anonymous

It clearly is how it was intended. Pre-POCA confiscation only applied to drugs offences. It was intentionally widened by POCA to include all offences. Benefit was quite deliberatley defined as the value of the property obtained / precuniary advantage gained or evaded (See S76).

For the bar of gold example see Smith [2002] All ER 366. D landed his boat full of tobacco on which no duty had been paid. Customs stopped him on the beach and took the tobacco. His benefit was the duty due on the cigarettes. As soon as he landed he had gained (very temporarly) the precuniary advantage of avoiding the duty even though he never made any profit (and presumabley made a loss). For the Mars Bar example see Section 74(6) itself.

It was open to parliment to draft the legislation differently and exclude minior offences. They didn’t. S76(1)(a) deliberatley defines criminal conduct as “conduct which constitutes an offence in England & Wales”. Don’t think you can blame the Courts for this one. Its on Parliment.

Anonymous

Nope, POCA was never intended for planning cases or people nicking Mars Bars. It was intended for serious crime.

Although the statute is badly drafted, it is often misinterpreted by the courts, particularly with regards to the definition of benefit, so don’t think you can blame parliament for the court’s overzealousness.

I still haven’t seen any cases supporting your Mars bar and gold bars assertions.

Anonymous

Aside from the question of whether its right to treat this a criminal or civil matter, 5 years in prison is clearly disproprtionate, that:s some serious jail time of the type usually given for violent offences. This length of sentence will only demean sentences handed out for serious matters. Hope Legal Cheek keeps us updated on the outcome of this story.

Anonymous

R v Waya.
POCA 2002 s.6(5)

The court will not make an order which is disproportionate.

It would not make a order in the gold bar case you opine, as the benefit has been recovered by the officer.

I hope you’re not responsible for advising defendants facing POCA applications!

Anonymous

See Smith [2002] All ER 366, Dovan [2015] EWCA crim 384. That is exactly what the Court did. See also Islam [2009] 1 AC 1079 – the benefit was the street value of the drugs even though they had been recovered by the officer.

R v Wilkes [2003] 2 Cr R(s) 105 is on all fours with the bar of gold example. The Appellant was arrested in the course of a burglary in possession of the victim’s property with a view to removing it. All property was recovered by the police. The C of A upheld the confiscation order, the benefit being the value of the goods obtained. (See also Waya [2013] 1 AC 294 where Wilkes was approved by the Supreme Court.

I really hope you are a student. The defintion of benefit is pretty basic stuff.

Anonymous

Suggest you read Wilkes again until it sinks in – the confiscation order was not for the value of tbe goods obtained, but for the value of goods that D couln’t prove weren’t from the proceeds of crime. The benefit from the burglary was recovered.

The definition of benefit is indeed basic stuff – it is revenue minus costs, it is just being misapplied by the courts.

If you are a student, suggest you hit the books a bit harder!

Anonymous

None of these cases really impact on the key issue here which is applicability to planning, Del Basso specifically endorses its application in these cases and confirms there is no distinction or principle of law which disapplies POCA to regulatory crime.

Simon

Everyone is corrupt except me. I’m a fine example of a lawyer in today’s society.
The case was bollocks because we made it bollocks.
That’s what we do. Then no one can ever improve on the case if ever taken over because we bollocks it all up so unexpectedly exceptionally fantastically all in a gigantic confusing mess that even the best will not be able Fathom because the truth was never looked at because we shredded it.
That’s what we do.
We don’t help the clients.
We help the insurers and sell double decker buses to lawyers.

Lawyer on a double decker bus

Cheque is in the post, mate!

Anonymous

What was the good Doctor thinking? This is a lesson for all in picking battles.

Anonymous

Or a lesson that councils have too much power.

Anonymous

R v Waya.
POCA 2002 s.6(5)

The court will not make an order which is disproportionate.

It would not make a order in the gold bar case you opine, as the benefit has been recovered by the officer.

I hope you’re not responsible for advising defendants facing POCA applications!

Anonymous

Francis Bacon , Lord Chancellor and a presuding Judge, admitted taking bribes in 1621.

I believe the card was happy to take bribes from both sides of a dispute.

Further, the Bar was apparently founded by the Knights Templar, who were not disciples of Peter of Galilee.

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