Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 09/05/95

KARAMAT HUSSAIN RAJA, 56, admitted 1982, practised as KH Raja Luton, struck off and ordered to pay £2,272 costs. Allegations substantiated he wrongly withdrew and used client account money for his own purposes, and failed to comply with book keeping rules. Tribunal told minimum cash shortages in excess of £150,000 were established by investigation accountant, a £150,000 subvention grant had been made to the firm taking over the practice and there were further claims against the compensation fund totalling £75,000. Raja was said to have known that the gross income of his firm amounted to only £1,000 a month yet to have drawn out in excess of that. In his submissions to the tribunal Raja said he arrived in the UK from Kashmir, Pakistan, with just £5 in his pocket, trained as a solicitor and when he set up his practice had undertaken work of a “humble nature” mainly for ethnic minorities. He said he had never used client money for his own personal gain but had borrowed it on a temporary basis to keep his office open to serve his clients in a professional way. The tribunal, while recognising that his qualification as a solicitor was the culmination of considerable determination and personal

effort and that his services to people from Kashmir was of great service, said he had nevertheless known what he was doing was wrong and had acted dishonestly. The public had a right to be protected from such dishonesty.

RODGER DARREL MERNAGH, admitted 1980, practised as RD Mernagh, Huddersfield, suspended for five years and ordered to pay £2,263 costs. Allegations substantiated he was guilty among other things of unreasonable delay in handing over client

papers and dealing with professional business, failure to reply promptly to letters from the Solicitors Complaints Bureau, practising without current practising certificate, failure to pay counsel’s fees when due, delay in dealing expeditiously with taxation of legal aid bills and lodging appropriate reports. Tribunal told Mernagh has been adjudicated bankrupt and has undergone psychiatric treatment. He was before tribunal in February last year when he was fined £2,000 among other things for failing to ensure that his offices were adequately supervised, breaching publicity rules by using publicity which was inaccurate or misleading, failing to reply promptly to letters from Solicitors Complaints Bureau and failing to answer correspondence from Law Society Monitoring Unit. Tribunal said his conduct showed a failure on his part to manage even elementary procedures. He had clearly not learned from his previous lesson and had continued to put his head in the sand. What he had done was too serious to be treated leniently.