The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has struck off a ‘cavalier’ claimant solicitor for acting ‘unprofessionally’ during a medical examination with a doctor.[i]
Mr Desai attended the consultation of his client, an 11-year old RTA victim, to act as a translator for the victim’s mother, who could not speak English. Instead, he answered questions addressed to the victim ‘without invitation’ and asked her a leading question about her headaches.
In a subsequent medical report, produced by a jointly instructed consultant neurosurgeon, the ‘very unusual arrangement’ between the solicitor and the victim’s mother became apparent.
Why was there no formal interpretation service presence?
This irregularity was brought to the attention of the SRA.
At the SDT hearing, it was concluded that the respondent solicitor’s conduct had been ‘extremely misguided’, ‘beyond passive’ and ‘highly inadvisable’.
Although the expert physician had made no official complaint, the Tribunal deemed that the effect of the solicitor’s involvement was to cause him to ‘change tack’. Further, it was the solicitor’s intention to ‘improperly influence’ the medical evidence, potentially invalidating the consultation:
‘The medical expert had been placed in a professionally uncomfortable position and the respondent’s client, a minor, risked having to undergo a second medical consultation in the event that the first one had been invalidated by the respondent’s actions’.
Fundamentally, the solicitor was unsuccessful in attempting to distinguish his actions, which he described as ‘help’, from ‘improper influence’.
On account of multiple breaches of SRA Principles and having acted ‘dishonestly’, Mr Desai was struck off and ordered to pay £30,000 costs.[ii]
[i] John Hyde, ‘Ban for 'cavalier' solicitor who sat in on client's medical’ (17 December 2018 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/ban-for-cavalier-solicitor-who-sat-in-on-clients-medical/5068691.article> accessed 24 January 2019.
[ii] Nick Hilborne, ‘Solicitor struck off after trying to influence medical expert’ (14 December 2018 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/solicitor-struck-off-after-trying-to-influence-medical-expert> accessed 24 January 2019.