Solicitor Found Guilty Of Dishonesty
At a Solicitor’s Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), Rajinder Kumar Puri was found guilty of dishonesty and ordered to pay a £7,501 fine.
The SDT heard how on numerous occasions Mr Puri over charged clients.
In one of the matters relating to overcharging clients, Mr Puri was appointed by the Court of Protection to act as a Deputy for his client BN, following the retirement of her previous Deputy.
The Deputyship was needed as the client lived with dementia and was residing in a care home.
Section 5 of the Order provided, under the heading “Costs and Expenses”, that:
“…The deputy is entitled to receive fixed costs in relation to this application, and to receive fixed costs for the general management of [BN’s] affairs. If the deputy would prefer the costs to be assessed, this order is to be treated as authority to the Senior Courts Costs Office to carry out a detailed assessment on the standard basis…”
Whilst acting for his client, Mr Puri raised multiple invoices for professional fees and VAT between August 2012 and 2016 which totalled £33,000. He used this money to pay salaries and other company expenditure. Upon realising his misdemeanour, in which he shouldn’t have charged the client, the SDT found that Mr Puri hadn’t returned the money quickly enough. He did return the money to BN.
These actions led to the SDT questioning Mr Puri’s integrity, and honesty as he hadn’t adhered to the rules surrounding the role of a Deputy and failed to return BN’s money to her in a timely manner.
The SDT report said:
“Outcome 5.3 required solicitors to “comply with court orders which place obligations on” them. The Respondent’s conduct was in material breach of the Order of the Court of Protection appointing him as Deputy for Client BN. In particular, it was in breach of Paragraph 5 of that Order, which made plain that he was only entitled to fixed costs or to such costs allowed following detailed assessment by the SCCO. He was certainly not entitled to bill Client BN for whatever sum he himself considered to be reasonable.”
The next client that Mr Puri overcharged was labelled FH. The SDT heard that whilst Mr Puri was acting in this client’s estate, he raised multiple invoices totalling £31,200 which was once again used to cover salary and other business costs. It took Mr Puri a further 3 months and 9 days to return the money to the client.