The High Court has dismissed an appeal by a sole practitioner struck off for giving work to a banned solicitor. Rajeswary Ramasamy, who practised in east London, appealed both the decision and sanction of a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal decision from last summer.
She argued in the High Court that the tribunal’s conclusions were insufficiently reasoned, that the findings did not match the conclusions reached, and that the ultimate striking off was disproportionate.
But in Ramasamy v Solicitors Regulation Authority, Mr Justice Males found nothing in the tribunal judgment to suggest she was unfairly treated, describing the challenge to a finding of dishonesty as ‘hopeless’ and dismissing her appeal. The judge said Ramasamy had been ‘obviously dishonest’ in either issuing a bill for attendance in court by struck off solicitor Rajesh Pathania, or by charging for an attendance she knew had now occurred.
The court heard that Pathania, banned in September 2010 was a regular feature at Ramasamy’s firm Thames Chambers Solicitors, speaking to clients and being provided with facilities to work on his own cases.
Pathania had described himself as having obtained a permanent position as a clerk to solicitors, and on another occasion an application was issued in court proceedings with his name and the firm’s address. Taken in totality, the tribunal had found enough evidence to prove Ramasamy had employed or remunerated a banned individual contrary to SRA principles.
Males said there was ‘abundant evidence’ which entitled the tribunal to find Pathania had used the firm’s email account up to early 2015.
Ramasamy argued that criticism of her links with Pathania was more about competency than integrity, but Males noted she had received a clear warning as to his involvement with the firm in December 2012. The judge added: ‘It is necessary for the protection of the public and for public confidence in the solicitors’ profession that a struck off solicitor should not be enabled to provide (or to purport to provide) legal services to the public by reason of an apparent association with a legitimate firm of solicitors.’
Males dismissed the argument that Ramasamy had to advance mitigation without full explanation of the tribunal’s findings, saying this was standard procedure at the end of hearings.
The tribunal was found to have taken account of her mitigation that she was seriously ill at the time of misconduct, and applied the relevant guidance.