A solicitor who falsely claimed he had a professional indemnity insurance (PII) policy has been struck off by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Venkateshwarlu Bandla had stated that he was insured with AIG Europe on his annual return, when in fact there was no policy in force.  It transpired that Mr Bandla had had taken the policy number from a previous indemnity insurance policy with Alpha Insurance in a “planned and calculated act”.

The Tribunal was also told that Mr Bandla had abandoned his firm, failing to inform his clients or the SRA of its closure in breach of the SRA’s Principles.  He was eventually traced to India, where he was served with papers, but he did not attend the tribunal hearing.

A forensic officer told the tribunal that Mr Bandla’s practice, Ven Solicitors, was located in a hairdressing salon. When she visited the premises, she was told that Mr Bandla had not been seen for about two months.  In her evidence she said that she had been unable to gain access, but could see various files which she was concerned might be client files.

The Tribunal ruled that Mr Bandla should be struck off.  It said that he “knew his conduct was dishonest by the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people because he had deliberately sought to conceal the true position from the SRA.”

The case shows how effective regulation is in protecting clients according to James Page, Director – Client Servicing, Brunel Professions.  “The legal profession has a well-deserved reputation for its honesty and integrity, but inevitably there will be one or two bad apples.  It is good news that the regulator has been able to act decisively to strike off a solicitor who showed such disregard for his responsibilities.”

The case has been reported by the Law Society Gazette.  The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decision has been published on the SRA’s website.

Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call James Page on +44 (0)117 325 0947.