A paralegal who took it upon himself to under-settle a personal injury claim has been barred from the profession.
Vijay Parekh, formerly with Coventry firm Ward & Rider in its PI department, made an offer to defendant solicitors to settle a claim for £25,000 – an offer which was accepted. The injured client had not given authority or instructions to make the offer and indeed had no knowledge of it.
A day after the defendant accepted settlement, Parekh told his client the opposing side had made a final offer to settle for £25,000 and he advised her to accept it. He explained that counsel had valued her claim at £30,000 which the court would reduce to between £24,000 and £26,000. The client agreed to settle her claim for the amount agreed with the defendant.
In fact, counsel had valued the claim at £33,750 and advised that offers be made for no less than £30,000. The firm identified concerns about Parekh’s conduct following a review of the file and he resigned after a disciplinary investigation was started. The firm compensated the client in full for her potential loss.
According to an SRA notice, Parekh admitted he acted dishonestly. He put forward as mitigation that he had worked as a paralegal for the firm for 14 years with no other concerns about his professional conduct. The firm audited his files after this incident and found no issues on them. It was not explained in the notice why he wrongly advised the client but he expressed remorse for his actions.
Parekh was made subject to a section 43 order, preventing him from working for any regulated firm without SRA permission. He will also pay £600 costs.