Clyde & Co associate struck off after sending ‘misleading’ emails to conceal £500,000 error

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By Thomas Connelly on

Rajpal Singh Ahluwalia’s case collapsed after he missed an important deadline

An experienced Clyde & Co solicitor who sent “misleading” emails to help conceal the collapse of a case he was working on has been kicked out of the profession.

Rajpal Singh Ahluwalia, an associate in Clyde & Co’s aviation team at the time, was handling a claim brought by a gliding instructor against one of the firm’s clients, an insurer. The instructor was attempting to claw back £500,000 from the insurance firm after a passenger suffered “catastrophic injuries” during a glider crash and was handed a £2,500,000 payout.

Unfortunately, the matter was made subject to default judgment in May 2013 following a missed deadline for service of the defence. The court awarded the instructor £500,000 plus interest and costs.

According to a Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) judgment published earlier this week, Ahluwalia sent a “misleading” email to the insurance client in October 2013. The email, which failed to mention a number of key updates regarding the case, including the all important default judgment, never arrived because Ahluwalia had misspelled the client’s name and company in the address.

Continuing, the disciplinary report states Ahluwalia — who has 11 years of legal experience under his belt — sent a further “wholly misleading” email, this time to an insurance broker, claiming the court had actually set aside the judgment.

Clyde and Co’s top brass first got wind of Ahluwalia’s problems in September 2014 when the case was transferred to a partner. Having taken legal advice from counsel, the firm opted to settle the case and suspend Ahluwalia. He resigned less than a week later.

Appearing before the tribunal, Ahluwalia accepted he had been negligent but denied allegations of acting without integrity and honesty. Claiming he had been working under “extreme pressure,” he alleged that his supervisor was “difficult to deal with” and would often have a “do not disturb” sign on her office door.

Striking him off the roll, the SDT ruled that Ahluwalia’s actions had, despite his protests, lacked integrity and honesty on three counts. He was ordered to pay £41,250 in costs.

Read the SDT judgment in full:

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