Axiom Ince director challenges SRA intervention in High Court

Shyam Mistry denies knowledge of alleged wrongdoing in appeal against “draconian” suspension by regulator
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Shyam Mistry, one of three Axiom Ince partners removed from practice by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), has challenged the regulator’s decision by lodging an application with the High Court.

The SRA intervened into the practising rights of Mistry earlier this month alongside Axiom Ince’s managing partner Pragnesh Modhwadia and Idnan Liaqat – effectively suspending them – for alleged breaches of the Solicitors Act. All three deny any allegations of misconduct. 

The regulator said at the time that it had intervened in the trio’s individual practices and not in the firm Axiom Ince, which it said “continues to trade in the ordinary course of business”. 

Mistry has instructed professional regulation specialist firm Bennett Briegal to bring the High Court claim against the SRA and its intervention agents, Gordons. 

Speaking to Global Legal Post, Paul Bennett, name partner at Bennett Briegal, said Mistry had invited the SRA to withdraw its intervention against him personally and lodged the application with the High Court to “try and secure this given the draconian nature of the intervention and his denial of knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.”

Bennett stressed that the litigation was an essential statutory safeguard available to his client; as the proceedings were at a very early stage, Mistry would refrain from commenting in detail.

Bennett added that his client “was very shocked and distressed by the intervention, spoke with the SRA voluntarily after the intervention and is confident the High Court process will bring the facts into focus to ensure he can resume his career whilst he seeks to clear his name in due course.” 

In a regulatory notice published 14 August, the SRA said that its adjudicator was “satisfied that grounds for intervention” into Mistry’s practice existed on the basis that he had “failed to comply with the rules made under sections 31 and 32” of the Solicitors Act 1974. 

Mistry was head of personal injury and medical negligence at Axiom Ince, which changed its name from Axion DWFM in May after it bought international shipping firm Ince & Co out of administration. The firm also bought national UK defendant insurance firm Plexus Law out of administration in July.  

The Law Society Gazette reported earlier this week that Axiom Ince had engaged accountancy firm BDO to investigate the allegations of wrongdoing and that it would not accept new instructions while the investigation continues. 

The firm told The Law Society Gazette on Wednesday (23 August) that while it would continue to trade as normal in the short term, it would “likely be unable to continue in its current format”, meaning that parts of the firm may be moved to different practices to provide “continuity” for clients.  

Global Legal Post understands that prospective buyers for elements of both firms are in discussion with the SRA and Axiom Ince across Axiom’s UK and international networks.

Mistry, Modhwadia and Liaqat are still listed among the 16 directors of Axiom Ince. Modhwadia and Liaqat have been prohibited from practising as solicitors by the SRA. 

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