Solicitor struck off for misleading UK Legal Aid

The solicitor submitted “improper” claims that cost taxpayers at least £800,000

Solicitor struck off for misleading UK Legal Aid

A solicitor has been struck off in the UK after admitting to misleading the Legal Aid Agency by submitting incorrect claims that cost taxpayers at least £800,000.

The decision handed down by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said that Daksheenie Abeyewardene admitted she submitted claims she knew to be improper to Legal Aid between 2009 and 2012.

Abeyewardene was the sole equity partner at Ziadies LLP of south London, where she was also the immigration head. The firm shuttered in July 2015.

Abeyewardene also admitted that she failed to openly and cooperatively deal with Legal Aid auditors in January 2015 because she provided misleading information to make it appear that the firm was compliant with reporting and contractual requirements.

She admitted that her conduct was dishonest and that her level of culpability was high.

“She accepts that due to the pressures of work and her illness she delegated tasks to others to relieve the burden on her but failed to properly supervise or check that work was done in respect of claims made for interpreter time, expenses and profit costs. She accepts that pressures of work and her ill health led her to neglect administrative matters and compliance,” the tribunal said in its decision.

Abeyewardene repaid Legal Aid £800,000. In an agreed outcome, Abeyewardene accepted the strike-off and a costs penalty of £17,218.75.

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