Solicitor lied to High Court in claim brought by former partner

SDT: Solicitor showed no real insight into what he had done

A solicitor who lied to a High Court judge during the trial of a dispute with a former partner in his law firm has been struck off.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said Ramachandren Narayanasamy, 57, stood to gain financially if he won the case and ordinary members of the public would be “horrified” by his misconduct.

The solicitor “had been asked a series of questions and had been taken through numerous documents at length”, so his misconduct could not be described as spontaneous as “it was not one question and answer”.

Mr Narayanasamy, principal of Dotcom Solicitors in North London, was “giving evidence in his own case about his own firm” and had control and responsibility for the answers he gave.

“He was an experienced solicitor and litigator and would have been aware of his obligations to the court.”

The tribunal heard that Mr Narayanasamy was admitted to the roll in 2004, having passed the qualified lawyer transfer test. Initially a sole principal, he was joined as a partner by ‘Mr L’ from 2007 to 2010 after he moved from Malaysia, with the solicitor obtaining a work permit for him.

Mr L had been investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission from 2006 before being cleared in 2011.

He then pursued a claim against Mr Narayanasamy for sums due to him under his contract of employment following his termination.

Four of the seven allegations made by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) against Mr Narayanasamy, which he denied, were upheld. They related to the evidence he gave at a hearing before Stephen Morris QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge, in October 2015.

Mr Narayanasamy was found to have acted dishonestly in the evidence he gave about a letter sent by his firm’s accountant to Work Permit UK, which said Mr L would join Dotcom as an equity partner with a 10% share of the firm.

The solicitor told the court that he had not told the accountants to include this, but the SDT found his attempts to distance himself from a piece of “damaging evidence” by denying the accuracy of its contents were dishonest.

“The tribunal found that that the accountant’s letter did represent what he understood to be the reality of the situation.”

He also acted dishonestly in the “untrue evidence” he gave relating to an agreement that Mr L would get a 10% profit share only if he generated £300,000 of income – a sum far greater than the firm had generated or was likely to.

The tribunal said it was satisfied that such a condition did not exist.

The SDT said the fact that the judge had not made a finding of dishonesty did not mean that he accepted Mr Narayanasamy’s evidence as being truthful.

“The judge was not carrying out an assessment of the respondent’s compliance with his professional obligations as that was not the purpose of those proceedings.”

When giving evidence about an email detailing the arrangement, the tribunal found that Mr Narayanasamy had “denied its plain meaning and his evidence was evasive, obfuscating and lacking in candour”. The solicitor’s evidence about his firm’s earnings was described in similar terms.

In these two instances, the tribunal found he had lacked integrity.

Counsel for Mr Narayanasamy argued that the SDT’s findings related to “limited, narrow and discreet” aspects of his evidence. He had been “a very confused witness”, who was “ill-prepared” but not “motivated by any desire to mislead the court”.

The tribunal said it was unable to establish “any real insight” on the solicitor’s part as he continued to maintain that he had done nothing wrong.

Mr Narayanasamy was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £34,900.

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