Privy Council dismisses challenge by attorney found guilty of forgery

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE Privy Council is recommending the Law Association’s disciplinary committee should review its rules “at the earliest opportunity” so that it can temporarily suspend attorneys from practice.

The recommendation came on Monday as five law lords dismissed the appeal of an attorney who challenged the findings of the disciplinary committee eight years ago.

Lords Lloyd-Jones, Briggs, Sales, Stephens and Lady Arden presided over the appeal of Shaheed Hosein, whom in 2013 the disciplinary committee found to have committed forgery relating to a client’s insurance case.

The matter was remitted to the Chief Justice and the Attorney General to determine if the case justified Hosein’s suspension from practice or removal from the roll of attorneys, since the committee does not have the power to do so.

Hosein appealed the disciplinary committee’s findings, but this was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, which held that the committee was entitled to come to the conclusions it reached, based on the evidence before it.

The Appeal Court said it was also not persuaded by Hosein’s complaints that the committee’s conclusions were based on a misunderstanding of the evidence, nor were they perverse.

At the disciplinary committee, allegations of forgery were made against Hosein by the insurance company which dealt with his client’s claim for damages after her husband was killed in a car accident in 2009.

The company made two offers to Hosein’s client, but he was found to have misrepresented them to his client as being lower than they actually were.

The committee found Hosein had forged the insurance company’s offers and presented them to his client as if they were genuine. It held the allegations against Hosein were proven by the evidence and were of very serious professional misconduct.

In his evidence, Hosein claimed his client and her sister-in-law created the fake documents.

During the committee’s hearing and the appeal, Lady Arden, who delivered the Privy Council’s decision, pointed out that Hosein had “continued in practice without interruption,” as it rejected his arguments and upheld the committee’s finding.

In its conclusions, the Law Lords made reference to the committee’s powers, saying, “Some eight years have passed since the disciplinary committee issued its report.

“In the meantime, Mr Hosein has been able to continue in practice. The disciplinary committee in this case considered that suspension or removal was warranted but it has or, at least at the time of its report into Mr Hosein’s case, had no power to suspend Mr Hosein from practice pending appeal.”

The Law Lords suggested that the absence of a power to impose an immediate sanction pending the final determination of a case, “if it persists,” should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity so that the committee can impose an interim suspension from practice in appropriate cases.