A solicitor who sat in on a client’s medical examination and asked leading questions has been struck off.
Younus Desai, sole practitioner at Bradford firm YD Solicitors, also attempted improperly to influence an investigation into his conduct by trying to sway the submissions of his former business partner.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Desai came to the attention of the SRA after another solicitor flagged up alleged irregularities in a medical report. The report followed a consultation with an 11-year-old RTA victim, where Desai was present nominally to act as translator for the girl’s mother.
The solicitor’s attendance, the SRA submitted, was ‘clearly inappropriate’ in itself, but it was also stated that Desai answered questions addressed to the patient and asked her a leading question about headaches. This intervention, it was submitted, caused the doctor to ‘change tack’ and he reported that Desai was seeking to influence him.
Desai said he was acting on the instructions of the patient and her mother, and pointed out the doctor had made no complaint about him. He said would have acted differently with the benefit of hindsight, but this was not the same as saying his actions were wrong.
The tribunal concluded Desai went ‘beyond such a passive role’ in proceedings and had acted in a ‘highly inadvisable’ way. The solicitor had taken a ‘cavalier approach’ to his professional obligations and had intended to influence the evidence of the medical expert, potentially invalidating the consultation.
Having found one allegation proved, the tribunal also found Desai acted dishonestly in trying to influence the account of his former partner, who had already retired from practice but was being asked questions about the matter by the SRA. The tribunal heard a series of emails were exchanged in which Desai sent the ex-partner draft responses to SRA questions, then wrote that his submission should be ‘brief and non-committal’.
Eventually the ex-partner decided to speak to the SRA ‘freely and openly’, and his responses in many cases flatly contradicted those proposed by Desai. The SRA also submitted that Desai agreeing to lend his ex-partner £400 was ‘part of the encouragement’ for him to help.
The tribunal found beyond reasonable doubt that Desai sought to influence his ex-partner’s answers to the SRA, and therefore to influence the investigation. The ex-partner felt he was being asked to provide an untrue account to the SRA, and the tribunal found Desai acted dishonestly in improperly seeking to influence his responses.
In mitigation, Desai said his actions were ‘totally out of character, irrational and foolish’.
The tribunal struck him off and ordered him to pay costs of £20,261.