Solicitor struck off for making false costs claim to court

SDT: Solicitor admitted misconduct

A solicitor who tried to pass off costs incurred by someone else as his own before the Business and Property Court has been struck off.

Pravin Jugdaosingh also subsequently gave untruthful evidence about the statement of costs in arbitration proceedings.

“The system and rule of law relies upon those who are its officers being scrupulous and honest in all their dealings,” said the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), “and the public would be concerned by the misconduct the respondent had demonstrated in this case.”

It approved a statement of agreed facts and outcome between the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Mr Jugdaohsingh, 46, who qualified in 2004.

The SDT heard that he had been a solicitor at London firm RJH Devonshire in 2017 when he entered into a joint venture agreement for the supply of legal services with KTS Legal, which in turn employed a solicitor called Shrinjin Khosla, who was acting for a client in defending proceedings brought by an Indian bank.

Mr Jugdaohsingh terminated the agreement 15 months later, which led to a dispute with KTS that was ultimately referred to arbitration.

In 2019, Ms Khosla left KTS and moved to India, where she practiced as the managing partner of SK Law. She then contacted Mr Jugdaohsingh to say the client wanted to instruct their two firms in connection with an appeal against an interim order made in the proceeding with the bank.

Ms Khosla’s costs were about £28,500 but these were not referenced when Mr Jugdaohsingh signed and filed a statement of costs with the court. His bill for just over £75,000 included his costs of nearly £57,000 at £450 an hour.

The bill was later increased to £85,000 and the court allowed £65,000, which the bank paid to RJH.

At the subsequent mediation over the KTS dispute, Mr Jugdaohsingh confirmed to the arbitrator that he had done most of the work on the bank’s appeal, including 16 hours of personal attendance on the client. This was not true.

A KTS employee later referred the solicitor to the SRA. In the course of its investigation Mr Jugdaohsingh accepted that he had included in his costs claim as his own time worked on the matter by Ms Khosla and had misrepresented the position to the arbitrator.

Mr Jugdaohsingh admitted the charges laid by the SRA and put forward various points in mitigation, although these were not agreed by the regulator.

These included that greed or a desire for additional profit played no part in the misconduct, there was no evidence of actual loss, that he had a hitherto unblemished career, and that the dispute with KTS took its toll on him.

But he did not submit that this was enough to displace the usual sanction of strike-off in cases of dishonesty.

The SDT said it noted all the matters set out within the non-agreed mitigation and it was to Mr Jugdaohsingh’s credit that he had made full admissions, albeit at a late stage in the proceedings.

But it agreed that he should be struck off and ordered to pay costs of £10,650.

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