Two solicitors have been jailed for a total of six years and one month for their part in committing a fraud and perverting the course of justice in bringing a £20,000 breach of contract claim against a former employee.
Diljit Bachada, 45, was the principal solicitor at Bromsgrove law firm Hollies Solicitors & Advocates. The victim was employed by the firm, but in August 2012 she resigned and there followed a dispute between the two parties about monies owed to the victim.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, in May 2013 the victim received a £20,000 county court claim made against her by Ms Bachada for the breach of her contract of employment. Attached to this claim were two contracts, each signed by Bachada and the victim.
On closer inspection, the victim realised that she had never signed the documents.
The matter was reported to police who examined the contracts and discovered some anomalies, such as that the Law Society copyright at the foot of each page was incorrect, while a clause stated in the contract did not come into force until July 2010. But the documents had apparently been signed in January 2010.
Bachada was later arrested, as was 41-year-old Tharinjit Biring who had assisted her by providing false information in a witness statement.
Following a six-week trial at Bristol Crown Court, both defendants were found guilty – Bachada of two counts of fraud and two of perverting the course of justice, leading to a sentence of four and a half years’ imprisonment. Biring was found guilty of perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 19 months’ imprisonment.
Ian Crooks, Senior Crown Prosecutor with West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Diljit Bachada abused her position of trust and authority to try and manipulate a civil claim against her former employee. Tharanjit Biring assisted her by providing false information in a witness statement.
“Their fraud was uncovered when the victim became suspicious about a number of documents which were sent to her which appeared to bear her signature.
“Handwriting experts concluded that these were not her signatures and investigation also uncovered incorrect use of the Law Society copyright as well as inserting a law in the contract which had not even been introduced when the contracts were alleged to have been signed.
“Both of these two individuals have brought their profession into disrepute and they will now have to deal with the consequences of their actions.”
West Mercia Police Detective Sergeant Mark Morton added: “This has been a complex case that involved a detailed analysis of legal documents to establish that they had been falsified.
“Members of the public rely on those involved in our judicial service to be totally honest and incorruptible but the actions of Dijit Bachada and Tharanjit Biring has undoubtedly damaged that trust.”