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Paralegal handed six-month suspended jail sentence for paperwork error has decision overturned on appeal

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Original ruling not ‘fair or transparent’

High Court

The Court of Appeal has quashed a suspended jail sentence of six months imposed on a paralegal for an administration blunder which saw legal papers sent to the wrong judge.

Nasrullah Mursalin, a former legal assistant at Gull Law Chambers in Hounslow, London, had been working on a client file concerning two separate sets of proceedings: a private family court matter and an immigration case.

It later emerged that the Queen Mary, University of London law grad had erroneously placed a number of documents relating to the client’s family case in the bundle which eventually made its way onto the desk of an immigration judge.

Judge Kambiz Moradifar made a contempt of court finding against the legal assistant at a family court hearing in Reading in July, and handed him a six-month suspended jail term.

This seemingly harsh decision has now been overturned and criticised by the Court of Appeal.

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The Times (£) reports that three appeal judges found the original ruling to not be “fair or transparent” and that Judge Moradifar had adopted a “cavalier approach” to the rules of contempt.

The report continues: “Lord Justice Henderson said the sentencing of Mr Mursalin had been an ‘unfortunate episode’ and that the trainee should go forward without the ‘stain’ on his character.”

Mursalin’s barrister, 33 Bedford Row’s Neil Mercer, said the ruling came despite the judge accepting the error was “in good faith” and that his client had no “relevant legal qualifications”.

He also added that Mursalin, who has since left the firm, but remains listed on its website, had at the time not been informed that he faced contempt proceedings and should not have been compelled to give evidence during the hearing in July.

Gull Law Chambers has been approached for comment.

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29 Comments

D_T_T

What… the…??!

Am I reading the original decision right??? Absolutely terrifying.

Anonymous

It’s difficult to believe that the decision was written by a judge. It’s bizarre and logically incoherent.

You Know Who

Wow. Racist much?

Anonymous

Once a week my romanticised view of the judiciary is stripped away

Terry

What is far more criminal is the amount of money earned by city lawyers when so many people in this country are struggling to make ends meet. Remuneration should be capped at 50k in London.

Jez

For the many, not the few!

Anonymous

I don’t know what’s worse. The Judge’s original decision or this comment.

Archibald Pomp O'City

Self-referential.

Anonymous

Top bantz Terry, trying to carve out a niche at the opposite end of the spectrum to the Kirkland NQ troll commenter, eh?

Doesn’t someone need to come along and say £50k is their annual watch budget?

Anonymous

Try £500k. What kind of bottom-of-the-barrel Patek are you going to get with a paltry fifty thousand?!

Anonymous

Dude, I spend £50K on watches alone.

YouKnowWho

Bad year, Wellers?

Anon

You can barely live on 50k in London – what a ridiculous comment!

Anonymous

This is astounding, why was this not publicised previously?! Surely this happens on a regular basis, it is such an easily done thing, picking up someone else’s printing or a secretary sending the wrong attachment etc., although not acceptable it certainly isn’t criminal!

Rory

A paralegal hung out to dry while the qualified supervising solicitors he worked for don’t take the wrap?

They don’t even know how to edit their own website as still listed: http://gulllaw.com/our-team/

I would also be concerned about this misleading stmt: Nasrullah did the Master in Law (LLM) in 2007 from Queen Marry University of London and has been practicing since 2010 with Gull Law Chambers. Not practicing – not qualified…

Dr Fran

because the supervising solicitor does live TV shows: UK Law with Riaz Gull.

This SeaGull is out for the crumbs…

Archibald Pomp O'City

PractiSing.

Grammar, please.

Granny Grammar

It’s “take the rap”.

“Take the wrap” is what you do after you have ordered at Subway.

Anonymous

It seems from the judgment that the firm was disliked.

Makes you wonder whether this ruling was to torpedo their ability to renew their professional indemnity inaurance.

Likely a contempt finding would prompt underwriter review and a decline to insure.

The Law Society Assigned Risk Pool only used to last a year and delay the inevitable. I doubt anything has changed since I last looked.

Clever stuff.

Did their appeal succeed in time to nullify the attack , if that is what it was (maybe not).

Anonymous

SRA should investigate the supervising solicitor. The judge should also be referred to the judicial conduct investigation office
So far as the supervising solicitor is concerned:

O(7.6)
you train individuals working in the firm to maintain a level of competence appropriate to their work and level of responsibility;

O(7.7)
you comply with the statutory requirements for the direction and supervision of reserved legal activities and immigration work;

O(7.8)
you have a system for supervising clients’ matters, to include the regular checking of the quality of work by suitably competent and experienced people;

Anon

As others have pointed out- the SRA needs to investigate the supervising solicitor.

This happens quite a lot in high street firms. Partners hire unworldly law graduates as ‘paralegals’, who are required to complete the tasks of a qualified solicitor without adequate supervision.

Unfortunately, it’s the clients who suffer as they rarely possess the sophistication to note that the case handler is inexperienced and normally incompetent.

Anonymous

Don’t think it’s a question of training or supervision. It’s more shit happens. Anyone could make a mistake like this however well trained, which is what makes the orginal judgement so absurd. Couple of years ago a well know silk was fined £20k by the ICO for leaving her laptop on a train, containing case papers. It wasn’t that she lacked training or that she meant to leave her laptop on the train. She just made a mistake any of us could have made, as was the casse with this paralegal.

Anonymous

It should be possible for the judge to be held in contempt in cases like this.

Anonymous

Fantastic typo in the County Court judgment:

“After I pointed out the issues of conflict and granted a short adjournment, the barrister’s position was revised to only resenting the party in the family case.”

It’s never good to resent a client. But resenting one is indeed better than resenting two at the same time.

Anonymous

S*itbag judge.

Anonymous

I have fast lost faith in the Judiciary. Judges do have their own biases and frequently make incredible decisions especially within the immigration Tribunal and the family court system, but too many members of the profession are far too afraid to challenge them because their (Judicial) brethren will usually support them on appeal especially with family matters. Justice in this country is fast dwindling.

Anonymous

Agreed. A lack of money in Legal Aid doesn’t help matters. There are some real sweatshops out there recruiting kids fresh out of their LLBs and sticking them with 30+ client caseloads and minimal supervision. The Home Office is similar. Crazy.

Anonymous

Literally the only reason some of them do it is the QCs saying no-one will look at their application unless they have paralegal work.

Funny how the QC’s own children will be relaxing at art school/on multiple Gap Yahs before starting their TCs/pupillage.

MENR

It is a rather harsh punishment. The judge should have an investigation ordered rather then a decision made. I also wonder how many years of experience does the paralegal have? Could it be that he was framed? Why isn’t the lawyer or supervised authority getting the rap? I am sure there is a protocol of how documents are verified before it makes it is way to the court office.

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