High Court imposes civil restraint order on former solicitor

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11 March 2014

High Court: no further action allowed for two years

The High Court has slapped an extended civil restraint order on a former solicitor whose conduct in bringing a series of claims established a “history” of indifference to court orders.

Mr Justice Griffith Williams sanctioned Shamiim Akhtar Karim after she brought a claim that “was no more than a re-working” of two earlier unsuccessful cases, something that should have been “readily apparent” to her as a former solicitor.

The dispute arose after Ms Karim and her husband borrowed £580,000 from Waterside Finance Ltd to pay off other debts, including to the Solicitors Indemnity Fund. When they made no payments in respect of the loan, Waterside appointed Law of Property Act receivers and the property was sold at auction.

Ms Karim lodged objections at the Land Registry to prevent the transfer and the defendants successfully brought a court action to force it through. Mr Justice Asplin rejected Ms Karim’s counterclaim and ordered her and her husband to withdraw their objections. He also told the Land Registry to complete the purchaser’s registration.

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Ms Karim then brought a second action claiming that the sale was unlawful, which was struck out as an abuse of process. An application seeking to delete parts of Asplin J’s order was dismissed as being totally without merit and a limited civil restraint order was made against Ms Karim.

However, an application made subsequently to reopen her appeal against Asplin J’s order has yet to be considered by the Court of Appeal.

Her third claim alleged fraud and dishonesty against the defendants – one of whom was Waterside’s solicitor – and Griffith Williams J was particularly critical of her making such an “unfounded” allegation against a solicitor. He said this was “clear evidence of harassment”.

The judge said there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the third action and struck out the claim as an abuse of process.

Making the extended civil restraint order preventing Ms Karim from bringing another action arising from the same events for two years, the judge said: “The history of these proceedings and the other proceedings demonstrates that the claimant has used the procedures of the court unsuccessfully and without proper grounds to delay the resolution of the various issues…

“I have identified in the course of this judgment a number of matters which establish a history of indifference to court orders. On any objective assessment, it should have been readily apparent to the claimant (who was a qualified solicitor in practice) that the third claim was no more than a re-working of her earlier claims and raised no issue which would and could not be considered in the existing proceedings.”

See Karim v Charkham & Ors [2014] EWHC 497 (Admin).

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