UK Solicitor Soophia Khan sentenced to 12 months in prison for contempt

The UK Law Society Gazette reports

Former solicitor Soophia Khan has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for contempt of court – but an application for a stay means the long-running legal fight between Khan and the Solicitors Regulation Authority continues.

The committal hearing at the High Court was partly held in private. A sanction judgment was then handed down in open court.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Leech said: ‘The court has shown a considerable degree of indulgence to Ms Khan both in relation to the late service of evidence and the adjournment of hearings.’

He added: ‘In my first judgment I considered Ms Khan’s contempt of court to be serious. Regrettably, nothing has changed since I gave judgment, except that Ms Khan’s intervention challenge has failed and she has been struck off as a solicitor.’

He added: ‘She was ordered to deliver up the files and, if she could not do so, to explain why. The explanation which she gave was inadequate and, in some cases, deliberately false.’

The judgment noted that Khan ‘has served the sentence…imposed for the breaches of the earlier orders’ and that she should not be punished again ‘for past breaches of those orders’.

But Leech added: ‘It is not a case where the court is considering a second sentence for continuing or further breaches of the same order. The continued harmful effect on Ms Khan’s clients and the necessity of ensuring that the SRA is not frustrated in carrying out its statutory functions are powerfully militating against the argument that no further sanction should be imposed.’

Khan’s ‘motive was to take a stand and defy the SRA’. She had previously been jailed for contempt in January last year.

Handing down a 12-month prison sentence today, the court took into account the harm which Khan’s ‘breaches of the order have continued to cause to her former clients’ as well as the need for a deterrent. The judgment said: ‘Ms Khan has both attracted and courted publicity. It is important that her sentence should discourage other solicitors or former solicitors from failing to comply with schedule 1.’