Regulation & Government

Tom Longstaff acts on behalf of SRA in committal proceedings

The SRA intervened into law firm JP Legal as a result of ‘a number of concerns’ about the management of the practice and a change in the regulatory status of the sole proprietor of the firm, Jakub Pawlak.

Exchange Chambers has announced that its barrister, Tom Longstaff, has successfully acted in committal proceedings brought by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In March, the SRA intervened into the law firm JP Legal under the Solicitors Act 1974. 

The intervention reportedly commenced as a result of “a number of concerns” about the management of the practice and a change in the regulatory status of the sole proprietor of the firm, Jakub Pawlak, following the UK’s departure from the EU in January.

Exchange Chambers said the SRA experienced difficulty in tracking down the client files of the firm. This was reportedly caused by “a lack of cooperation” from Pawlak, and his claim that client files had been “stolen” shortly after the intervention.

An application for injunctive relief was brought in May when Longstaff first appeared without a notice application on behalf of the SRA. An order was made by HHJ Cawson QC permitting the SRA to search an address known to be associated with Mr Pawlak, and requiring him to deliver up all client files in his possession.

Additionally, investigatory work undertaken by the SRA and Stephensons LLP reportedly suggested that JP Legal was continuing to trade as a law firm, including by making requests to former clients for payment and continuing to correspond on their behalf.

In his judgment, HHJ Cawson QC, found that Mr Pawlak had acted in contempt of court in failing to deliver up paper and electronic client files to the SRA, which he found were in the possession or control of Mr Pawlak when the earlier orders requiring delivery up had been made.

HHJ Cawson QC said that Mr Pawlak had taken a “conscious decision” to not attend any hearing in person, and to not give evidence.

Cawson said: “He was aware that his evidence would not stand up to scrutiny, and that by attending at court, rather than remaining in Poland, he would be exposing himself to arrest in the event that he was found to have acted in contempt of court”.

Back to top button