A personal injury solicitor who “improperly attempted” to influence a doctor by turning up to a medical examination of his client in the role of translator has been struck off.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found that Younus Desai then tried to improperly influence an investigation of his behaviour by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
“The medical expert had been placed in a professionally uncomfortable position and the respondent’s client, a minor, risked having to undergo a second medical consultation in the event that the first one had been invalidated by the respondent’s actions,” the SDT said.
“Further, trust and confidence in the system of jointly instructed experts was seriously undermined by solicitors unilaterally attending without notice (and even more by overt efforts to influence the evidence of the expert).”
The SDT found that Mr Desai then sought to influence his former law firm partner, known in the ruling as Mr DJ, “to provide an inaccurate account” of the expert witness episode to the SRA.
“The misconduct of seeking to influence Mr DJ’s account to the SRA was aggravated by the fact the tribunal found it to be a dishonest attempt to conceal details of his own actions.
“It was also conduct which extended over a considerable period of time and was deliberate.”
The tribunal heard that the former partner, Mr DJ, retired from their Bradford-based practice in August 2015, leaving Mr Desai – born in 1961 and admitted in 2009 – as sole principal of YD Solicitors.
The SRA received a report from another personal injury lawyer in November 2015, highlighting “alleged irregularities” in a medical report from Mr JG, a consultant neurosurgeon jointly instructed by the parties.
The SRA alleged that Mr Desai attended a medical consultation involving Mr JG, his client (a girl aged 11) and her mother, who could not speak English.
Mr JG said he was “very surprised” that Mr Desai was present, that it struck him as a “very unusual arrangement” and that he would have expected a formal interpretation service to help the girl’s mother.
“He also noted that the respondent spoke at the consultation, without invitation, to confirm details of the accident.
“He noted that questions from the medical expert, which were clearly addressed to the patient, were answered by the respondent.”
The SDT described Mr Desai’s actions as “extremely misguided” and said that he had taken a “cavalier approach to his professional obligations”.
The tribunal rejected the distinction Mr Desai attempted to make between providing “help” to the client and “improper influence”, which he denied.
Mr Desai was found to have “improperly attempted to influence the evidence of an expert witness”.
He was also found to have “improperly attempted to influence an SRA investigation” by seeking to guide the responses given by Mr DJ, who emigrated after his retirement.
The SDT said the fact that Mr DJ stated, “in reply to the respondent’s suggested answers and approach”, that he was going to speak “openly” to the SRA was evidence that “he was being asked to provide an untrue account to the SRA”.
“His subsequent answers were materially different from, and in many ways directly contradictory of, the answers suggested by the respondent.”
The tribunal “considered that the respondent knew that he was asking Mr DJ to corroborate his untruthful account”.
Mr Desai was found to have breached three SRA Principles in doing so and to have acted dishonestly.
He was struck off and ordered to pay £30,000 costs.