Harina Zoey Panesar-Jagdev escapes strike-off regardless of admitting dishonesty

A junior solicitor has been suspended for six months after displaying a consumer a pretend e-mail in what a disciplinary tribunal known as a “second of insanity”

Harina Zoey Panesar-Jagdev agreed the sanction with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) following the incident in August 2018. A disciplinary tribunal has now signed off on the deal, saying that whereas a dishonest solicitor would usually be struck off, these had been “distinctive circumstances” justifying a mere suspension.

Panesar-Jagdev was nearing the top of her coaching contract with conveyancing agency LCF Residential and dealing with the sale of a flat for a consumer. Needing to ship some correspondence concerning the sale to Agency B, she by accident emailed it as a substitute to Agency C, which had nothing to do with the sale: the 2 e-mail addresses had been “confusingly related”.

The error got here to gentle 9 days later, when Panesar-Jagdev despatched a chasing e-mail and Agency C flagged the error. The consumer had been copied into each emails and was apprehensive that the mix-up would delay the sale.

The trainee then tried to cowl her tracks. She made a duplicate of the unique e-mail besides with the proper Agency B e-mail deal with within the “to” discipline and despatched a screenshot to the consumer, claiming that it confirmed she had shortly realised the error and glued it 9 days earlier.

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That’s what made this a matter for the regulator: dishonesty can be fatal to a solicitor’s career. Panesar-Jagdev needed to argue that these had been “distinctive circumstances” the place being struck off can be disproportionate, regardless of admitting dishonesty.

Fortunately, the SRA agreed, saying that this was “extra akin to the ‘canine ate my homework’ excuse than a calculated plot to hide dishonesty of a protracted and ongoing nature”. The consumer hadn’t been negatively affected and Panesar-Jagdev “was a younger solicitor who had discovered from her mistake”.

Signing off on an agreed six-month suspension, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said that “this had been a fleeting or momentary lapse of judgement which had lasted a really transient time period [about an hour] earlier than discovery”. Panesar-Jagdev had an in any other case unblemished file and had been stored on by LCF Residential regardless of the incident. Her new employer was additionally conscious of it.

The tribunal concluded:

“[T]his was a paradigm instance of a ‘second of insanity’… which fell into the small residual class of instances for which strike off from the Roll can be a disproportionate sanction.”

Final 12 months, a property solicitor who used Tipp-Ex to change the date on important paperwork was struck off by the identical tribunal.

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