Judge orders lawyer, clerk to pay $80k

THE High Court in Lautoka has ordered lawyer Iqbal Khan and Shah Newaz Khan, a senior law clerk in Mr Khan’s law firm, to pay over $80,000 to a Lautoka woman.

Shaveena Kumari claimed fraud, false misrepresentation and negligence, and professional misconduct against the pair in dealings related to the purchase of a Housing Authority lease in 2011.

The 56-year-old widow who claimed she was illiterate and dependent on the advice of the defendants, told the court that she and the agent of the owner of the piece of land had agreed on a sale price of $12,000.

The transfer documents were prepared and signed at the defendant’s office, reflecting the agreed price of $12,000.

She told the court that in October that year, at the request of the defendants, she paid a total sum of $37,000 to the defendants. When she enquired, the defendants told her the sale price had escalated.

Ms Kumar also told the court that the defendants also informed her the agent had abandoned intentions to sell the piece of land in question.

She asked for a refund but was told she owed the agent through an “Acknowledgement of debt and undertaking”. She took her grievances to another law firm and the agent filed for bankruptcy after Ms Kumar obtained a judgment against him.

In his judgment, judge Justice Mohamed Ajmeer said the plaintiff proved her case sufficiently and concluded that the defendant had acted for both the vendor and the purchaser in a conflicting situation and thereby committed a professional misconduct.

“The defendants had devised a plan to extract monies from the plaintiff on the forged documents, which is another professional misconduct,” Justice Ajmeer said.

“In relief I give judgment in favour of the plaintiff. The defendants must jointly and severally refund the sum of $37,000 to the plaintiff. Also, the defendants must jointly and severally pay general damages in the sum of $20, 000 and punitive damage in the sum of $30,000 totalling $50,000.

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