12/06/2008

On the naughty step

The family firm.

It has such a reassuring sound, redolent of values of client care handed down through the generations, and the energy of youth brought under the careful supervision of wisdom. The very best traditions of the local small firm, a foundation stone of the community.

Or not.

Karim Solicitors, consisting of Imran Karim (40), supposedly senior partner, his sister Saira (39) and their mother Shamim (65) have all been struck off the roll in one fell swoop, after leaving a trail of dishonesty proceedings and panicking liability insurers behind them.

Exhibit A, Zurich Professional Ltd v Karim & others, (see page 3 of this pdf) in which Zurich sought, successfully, to avoid liability on claims for misappropriated funds by clients on the basis that the claims arose out of dishonesty and/or fraud, primarily by the first defendant, Shamim Karim, who was found to be the controlling power behind the firm. For the detailed factual background to this case see paras 28 – 33 of this account [PDF]

Exhibit B, the SDT, following a nine year long investigation, struck all three off the roll (in their absence). Dishonest use of clients’ money, to the tune of £840,000 was not the only problem.

The money, Imran said, had been spent by him on “a Rolex, loose women and drink”. However, his sister Saira took a more prudent approach and invested her money in business ventures, including the ‘Miss Nude UK’ beauty contest. [See BBC story here, featuring Saira as ‘founder’]

Sadly ‘Miss Nude UK’ proved to be the beginning of their downfall, when in 1999, company documents for the ‘beauty contest’ arrived at the Law Society in an envelope from Karim Solicitors, who then denied all knowledge.

Imran and Saira had put all the blame on Mommy Dearest, who had been found to be the dominant force in Zurich v Karim, but, as in that case, the manner in which the brother and sister had corruptly permitted Shamim to run the firm was enough to damn them. All three were culpable. Interim costs order of £75,000 made.

The Karims have the right to appeal the SDT decision and are apparently intending to do so.

[edit 13 June] This just gets better. See this newspaper story. Imran had a serious premiership footballer and Krystal habit. Saira set up Miss Nude UK with Nick Reynolds, the son of Great Train Robber Bruce ‘Butch’ Reynolds. Despite being on Sky TV, Miss Nude UK wasn’t enough to rescue the situation, particularly as Saira had also also put money into a ‘failed music business’.

Mind you, there was the alleged apartment in New York and the ‘large home in Esher’ (Ahh, fragrant Esher) to console her. Document shredding and claims of being authorised to take mortgage holders money (Eh?) were not enough of a defence.

After a series of raids beginning in 1999 investigators found £450,000 had been misappropriated from the proceeds of a house sale belonging to clients Mr K and Miss D.

A further £390,000 had been taken from mortgage cash advanced by Northern Rock to Mrs Binu Govindan, who sold her home in Brighton Road, Purley and was buying a property on Woodcote Valley Road.

I’ve said it before and will say it again, it is always the conveyancers you have to watch…

defendant
Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

34 Comments

  1. Annabel

    You appear to be terribly misinformed about the devastating impact of a loss of livelihood and professional career and loss of reputation to the victims of a pot smoking book keeper and some rougue clients (Ms.D [name removed by NL] a known fraudster who allegedly conned millions from her long suffering husband and who ruthlessly took advantage of the Karim Firm. Now involved with S [name removed by NL]

    Where did the figure come from if no forensic accounts were ever done ? It’s all a cover up.

    No client money was ever spent on MNUK it carried the weight of professional sponsorship and legitimate funding. The music business culminated in a top ten dance hit and an appearance on Top of The Tops and was not funded by any client money.

    The “raids” were a group of christmas time hikes to previous clients premises all that was found were a bunch of old text books and law journals . Various Judges crictisized these moves.
    How could these be described as raids ? They were misconceived exercises that proved nothing save that the Karims were telling the truth to the Law Society .

    The Karims never owned a shredding device. They were just relocating offices. But of course if you’re a minority firm relocating translates to shredding.

    For 10 years the firm was stalked and targeted by systemic inherent racist abuse.Imagine if you and your business were being monitored for 10 years If that were true then the alleged thefts of client money happened under the very noses of the forensic investigation accountants .

    The main work of the Karim Firm was civil rights, crime and later defamation. They were stars in the making and will continue to fight for Justice and reveal the real attrocities of being black lawayers in Britian today.

    The Tribunal is a cronist, dysfunctional old boys club with draconian rules and repugnant functions. Where else in the Western world would it be allowed to pass sentence on someone without them being able to secure legal representation or present eveidence ? That’s right the spectre of guantanamo is alive and kicking in the realms of the Law Society .

    Neither Imran nor Saira Karim were ever involved in conveyancing as they were unable to speak the language of the predominant south east asian clientele.

    Imran never claimed monies were spent on Rolex and women and Krystal this lie was repeated by a miserably mediocre rogue solicitor who was able to say what he liked without challenge as none of the Karims were there to scrutinise his tawdry lies.

    Check Zurich again the Judge finds no dishonesty on the part of Imran and Saira Karim.

    As for the curious company house letter this was a rough piece of paper sent to the Law Society in error and documentary evidence was provided to them to show what it was.

    Saira Karim was never a Director of MNUK so why should she claim that she was.

    The Law Society are seething with anger because they have been continously critisized by the Karims for their inherent , systemic racism, their fabricated allegations ( at least 2 individuals perjured themselves) and their mafia like tendancies which will all be revealed in time to come.

    There is no apartment in New York a simple property search will reveal the truth neither is there a North London flat. The only home is in Esher bought with the honest money, hard work and decency that came to characterise the Karim family. It has been the family home for over 2 decades long before the Law society set its beady eyes on it

    I have been a long term supporter of the Karim family they have always been honest kind and above all loyal to all their friends and supporters.

    I suggest you acquaint yourself with the real facts of the case and remove the fictional garbage from your misinformed inaccurate article .

    Reply
  2. Nearly Legal

    Annabel, how lovely to hear from you, and with such inside knowledge too.

    I make no great assertions for the accuracy of the Evening Standard article – it is the Evening Standard after all. But if you have any issues with their article, I suggest you take it up with them.

    Now may I correct some inaccuracies on your part:
    I never said that Saira was a director of Miss Nude UK and I didn’t know she had claimed to be. I have no idea why she would would claim that – why not ask her? [Edit: she is quoted as saying she is the ‘managing director’ in this interview in June 2001]

    I never mentioned a North London flat, do tell more…

    More importantly, I never said that Irwin J, in Zurich v Karim, found that Imram and Saira had carried out or condoned specific acts of dishonesty.

    Irwin J did, however, find that they had condoned general conduct which was dishonest. He also found that Imran and Saira knew that they were not in control of the firm, knew that they were supposed to be in control of the firm and divested themselves of responsibility as to how the firm was run, in full knowledge of Shamim’s character and professional history. The Judge also found that Shamim would not otherwise have been able to commit the specific dishonest acts involved.

    As Imran was the senior partner, I would be delighted if you could explain how this finding means that Imran and Saira conducted themselves and the business of the firm in a proper and professional manner. [Edit 15 June. Particularly as the Court actually found that they were ‘profoundly reckless’ and didn’t care where the money their mother was supplying them with came from, even when they must have known it was not from a legitimate source – see page 13 of this PDF for a report.]

    Blaming a ‘pot smoking book-keeper’ doesn’t actually improve matters. A ‘senior partner’ is supposed to ensure that any problems are picked up quickly and is responsible for the accounts. Adding in poor judgement in staff recruitment isn’t an excuse.

    I’ve edited the names out of your accusation of fraud, as there has clearly been no conviction or charge in that regard.

    But you invite some further questions, as you seem to have inside knowledge of this affair and have rather dodged them in your comment.

    There are two specific accusations on money being removed from the client account without client authorisation in respect of conveyancing transactions in the sources I’ve quoted above. Did these happen? Yes or No.

    If yes, then there was a hugely serious breach of professional conduct – which is the responsibility of the senior partner. I am startled that you really don’t seem to get it. If there is dishonest conduct in a firm in which you are senior partner, you are responsible. If your staff screw up, you are responsible and it is your job to put it right.

    When you say neither Imran nor Saira were involved in conveyancing because ‘they didn’t speak the clients’ language’ you miss the point about professional conduct and responsibility so badly it beggars belief. ‘I didn’t know’ is quite simply not a defence to misconduct in the firm for which one is responsible.

    As for the rest of what you allege is inaccurate, if Imran wants to deny saying anything about a Rolex and loose women, he is welcome to contact me (and the Law Gazette and the Evening Standard). I’m not taking a correction from an anonymous ‘friend’. The same goes for ‘shredding documents’ and a New York apartment.

    I’ll accept it was not clear that any of the dishonestly obtained money had been put into Miss Nude UK and have edited the post where it could have been read to suggest that, although that was not intended.

    I didn’t say that any client money was put into the music business. ‘Top ten dance hit’ aside, I take it that the music business failed?

    You seem to know a lot about the Miss Nude UK documents sent to the Law Society – a ‘Company [sic] House letter’. Please say whether the Karims denied any inolvement with Miss Nude UK at the time. Yes or No.

    Lastly, you rightly point out that the Karims didn’t attend the SDT. Why not? Any Court is able to make a judgment in the absence of the Defendant where the Defendant is fully aware of proceedings but has failed to turn up – as indeed the Karims failed to turn up in Zurich v Karim (after yet another request to adjourn by the Karims was refused). As ‘civil rights’ practioners, I would assume that the Karims were well aware that just not turning up doesn’t invalidate proceedings.

    Looking forward to your clarification.

    Reply
  3. frankie

    idiot clown who are you employed by you will get a writ claim form retract bitch do you know what yardie means rude boy

    Reply
  4. Nearly Legal

    Frankie/Annabel (you share an IP address so I’m guessing you know each other). I suppose that this means you won’t answer my questions. How disappointing.

    Call me old fashioned, but I’ve always found implied threats of violence to be rather unbecoming for a civil rights lawyer.

    As for the ‘writ claim form’, as any civil rights/defamation lawyer would know, that can only come from the allegedly defamed party. Is there something you want to tell us?

    Reply
  5. lawminx

    Absolutely Astonishing………

    Reply
  6. betty black

    hello i am a black man are you a clown nearly legal bitch boy

    Reply
  7. betty black

    nearly legal you are a twat cristal is spelt thus bitch boy

    Reply
  8. Nearly Legal

    Betty, you appear to be having a bit of an identity crisis. As these are all from the same IP as Annabel & Frankie, multiple personality disorder perhaps.

    But insults are frankly very boring. Any more will just be deleted.

    Reply
  9. housinganger

    ‘The Karims never owned a shredding device’

    Personally I would want a solicitor who did own a shredding device so that they might properly dispose of personal information at the correct time in order to prevent ID theft.

    Reply
  10. C

    Well that was fun!!

    Nearly Legal I bow down to your self restraint!

    Reply
  11. lawminx

    I completely agree with C! NL, your self restraint is absolutely incredible!!

    Reply
  12. housinganger

    I doubt any kind of reply would penetrate the head of Annabel / BB. They had a chance to comment but resorted to name calling. Can’t say anymore I think.

    Reply
  13. Nearly Legal

    C and Minx – no self restraint involved. I was giggling loudly. There have also been emails… I have quite a strong suspicion I know who Annabel/frankie/Betty/Isabella is, but nothing concrete, so I will let people draw their own conclusions.

    By the way, I would just like to point out that in Zurich v Karim, Imran and Saira were both found to be ‘profoundly reckless’ such that they passed the test for fraud and that their behaviour was ‘consistently dishonest’. So both Imran and Saira were found to have behaved fraudulently and dishonestly, even though they were not found to have assisted or known of the specific dishonest acts committed by Shamim. Just to clear that up.

    I don’t know if this was also why the SDT found them to be dishonest, but, given Annabel’s insistence that there was no finding of specific dishonesty on the part of Imran and Saira in Zurich, it seemed worth pointing out that they were found to be ‘consistently dishonest’, and that they condoned persistent dishonest handling of money.

    Reply
  14. C

    I think conclusions have been drawn. Enough said.

    It certainly got me through my day yesterday anyway!

    Many thanks.

    Reply
  15. Nearly Legal

    C – it is obvious isn’t it? Clearly it is someone from the Law Society trying to further discredit the Karims. An amateurish effort though.

    Reply
  16. davidson harries

    I have some knowledge of this case. The Karims have been found to be crooks by the Law Society and the High Court. Their only response has been to make claims of racism about the SDT, The Law Society, various judges and members of the press. The phrase ‘they know no shame’ should have been invented for them.

    Reply
  17. Emily Caye

    I’ve been looking into the aspect of racism within the Law Society and more specifically at minorities who have a higher than average profile in the Legal Domain. Davidson Harries , with respect shows his extraordinary ignorance when he alleges that the “Karim’s” only response was to “play the race card” the problem is specifically adressed in Richard L. Abel’s brilliant : “The Making of The English Legal Profession 1800 -1985”. I suggest a perusal of the chapter on race it reads : “The Law Society effectively ignored problems of discrimination…” Indeed it was only until 1985 that there was even a First National Conference on Minority Entry to the Legal Profesion. Being “found to be crooks” by the Law Society and the High Court is hardly suprising if those legal systems are corrupted by inherent systemic racial bigotry. I fear it will be some time before we in England overcome these racist challenges and embrace the “Obama Effect” as in the US . If , in 1982 the UK could only manage around 0.2% or thereabouts of solicitors in the Legal profession then we still have a long way to go.
    I would also caution observers and pundits from making reckless and unhelpful statemnts that carry little legitimacy and smack of ignorance , racism or both. Let the debate continue .

    Reply
  18. Michael

    Comparisons between England and the US are fruitless. London’s pre-Windrush black population numbered in the hundreds. Not the thousands. We in England are way ahead of the game and the rise of incomers in the professions has been nothing short of meteoric.

    You urge that the debate continue, but condemn anyone who doesn’t agree with you as ignorant. How does that differ from bigotry?

    Reply
  19. Emily Caye

    With respect comparative analysis with the US is not fruitless but fundamental to the workings of the English Legal System. Racism is a real challenege that the English Legal System needs to address. “Nothing short of meteoric” perhaps you should look at the statistical data of how many minorities entering the profession remain within the profession and can be considered as equal to their “white” counterparts after the same entry level qualifications and tenure within the profession even if they do similar work. There is a startling discrepency between minorities and their indigenous brethren of equal standing when compared in this way. The minorities do not progress as rapidly or as swiftly as their favoured white counterparts.

    In response to your allegation that I displayed “bigotry” by not agreeing with the fomrer poster’s view point I strongly disagree. The poster claimed that “he knew a little about the case” and as with most issues in life when one only knows a “little” it is akin to knowing nothing at all. The Poster is rightly entitled to his viewpoint but I felt it to be tainted with bias as he failed to substantiate any of his comments with anything other than obviously salacious soundbites. My understanding of inherent racist bias within the English Legal System comes from detailed investigation and analysis and is backed by cogent research ie Abel who explains that the Law Society had a problem of racism and now here we are 2 decades on and I still believe that the statsical evidence which examines race bias within the profession cannot be overlooked. In addition there is the often discarded “gehtttoisation” of certain areas of the law that remain the staple of minority solicitors which is another inequality within the system.The facts speak for themselves.
    I absolutely defend anyone’s right to express an opinion but to express an opinion that is founded on self confessed limited knowledge detracts from the bigger issue and reiterates an already well publiscized opinion.

    As it is your right to assert what you think of my view so it is my right to disagree. The art of democracy is a delicate ballet. Oh and a “bigot” would hold on to their view regardless of facts and figures and not allow rational analyisis of the issues. Long live free speech !

    Reply
  20. Emily Caye

    Here’s a challenge for all you cynics out there who seriously contend that racism is not a part of English Legal Systems : Name me 5 BLACK HIGH COURT JUDGES double dare: name me 15 BLACK SILKS then I pwomise I will change my views.

    Reply
  21. Michael

    Racism is and will forever remain a part of all areas of all societies on the planet. Including the Law Society of England & Wales.

    The idea that racism is overcome when the numbers of High Court Judges and Silks exceeds an arbitrary number is, frankly, a bit daft. You can change your views whenever you like.

    I am interested in the numbers though and, in keeping with the lawyers’ code that you don’t ask a question unless you know the answer, I’m sure you can tell us exactly how many were there at the last headcount.

    At odds with that code (me not being a lawyer) I ask again, name a less racist society than that of Britain. And a less racist legal community. We can all compare then, and that’ll be a fun debate won’t it.

    Reply
  22. William Flack

    I would like to leave a message of support for what you have been saying here Emily.

    It is of course disturbing when people who have been caught acting in a dishonest way suggest that they are victims of racism. However, this does not mean that we should ignore the problem of racism within the legal system and Law Society.

    Michael I think that the answer to Emily’s questions about Judges and QC’s is that there were less of them than the numbers suggested. I am afraid that I think that your contributions here leave you sounding like the people who used to defend the Black & White Minstrel show on the grounds that it was good family entertainment and that it was political correctness gone made to suggest there was anything wrong with it. I think that they thought that Britain was “way ahead of the game” as well.

    Reply
  23. Michael

    William,

    It is a characteristic of those on the left to resort to ridicule of those who challenge their zealously-held beliefs. But at least you went for the hand-wringers’ option of a stage show and didn’t make the straight leap to “Holocaust Denier!” as the more narrow-minded fanatic so often do.

    I again invoke my definition of bigotry.

    That aside, you’ve written hundreds of words in rebuttal but have omitted to tap out the small number of letters required to nominate your country which trumps Britain as the beacon of equality.

    Given the last line of your comment, it’s only fair that you do so.

    I can’t think of a country, but my nomination as a guiding light for meritocracy ahead of the LawSoc is:-

    The Coca-Cola Championship!

    (although I imagine the sponsors have got a few skeletons looking for an argument).

    Reply
  24. Michael

    Emily, a little point re your assertion that “a “little” is akin to knowing nothing at all.”

    I’ve spent most of my free time during the last couple of weeks reading (but, I confess, not wholly undersanding) Black Swan by the wonderful Nassim Nicholas Taleb (who, if I were black, I would unflinchingly co-opt as ‘one of us’) and would venture that “a lot” is more akin to knowing nothing, than a “little.”

    Spend the tenner, wonder at his brilliance and then tell me I’m wrong.

    Reply
  25. William Flack

    Sorry if I appeared to ridicule you there Michael. No disrespect intended.

    You asked for the name of a country which can compare with us. How about France? They may have their problems but hey! Who said Britain is a beacon of equality anyway?

    Reply
    • Michael

      No problem, William.

      France, eh? Liberté, égalité, fraternité

      Et Vichy, et Le Penn. Bit under the belt that – especially from a self-confessed Francophile like me.

      No, France. Good shout.

      As to who said Britain’s a beacon of equality, I did. It is a veritable ‘La Convivencia’ Toledo – or a pre-war Beirut as described by NN Taleb.

      Of course, the demise of our golden age could be as sudden and bloody as theirs. But, again I borrow from NNT, we won’t see it coming.

      Reply
  26. Emily Caye

    I actually read “Fooled by Randonmness”, by Lebanese Muslim Nasim Nicholas Taleb before the much vaunted “Black Swan” and have to surmise that the current economic downturn is not a black swan event.

    On a more interesting note I was intrigued by the way the media covered the alleged wrongdoings of the Karim partnership which I believe included a legitimate beauty contest MNUK . On a crude analysis compare if you will the way this very site spent hours and days discussing the “Karim” case when not even a smidegeon of the time was spent on similar cases ie Paul Saffron from renouned Radcliffes Le Brasseurs who despite pocketing over a £100,000 pounds from client money to spend on strippers was not given the same meaty discourse . Neither was Mcgoldrick who was struck off for swindling some of the most needy and disenfranchised of clients . I wonder what the real motivation was behind such detailed coverage even on this site . It seems on the face of it to be a black thing, a brown thing or a toxic comibination of black, brown and female .

    In the words of Marshal Mathers iii would the real slim shady please stand up ?

    Rudy Narayan RIP.

    This debate will continue but when the media coverage of similar cases is so obviously systemically racist in that Paul Saffron does not even merit a cursory comment by this site and others get a wagon load of anlaysis it begs the question that Robert Nestor Marley so eloquently put in his musical masterpiece : “War” : ” Until the philosophy which holds one man superior to another is utterly destroyed and until the colour of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes …..I say” I throughly recommend you fork out a tenner for this marvellous album. Stir It Up little darlin’s .

    Reply
    • NL

      As the person who usually does the naughty step posts, I can safely say that it is an equal opportunities affair, as a cursory examination of the other naughty step posts will show. It is purely a matter of whatever happens to catch my eye at the moment when I feel like writing one. Paul Saffron would have undoubtedly merited a step post, and would possibly have made a good one, but was either at the wrong time or I just didn’t feel like it. I certainly don’t do more than one a month, usually less, and there is, in fact, a naughty step post from May 2008, the month of Mr Saffron’s case. It is this one.

      Any objections, Emily? If you care to point fingers, I would be grateful if it was at least based on a cursory read through of the blog.

      On the Karim case, the length of time spent on it here was, as should be clear, largely due to posted and emailed comments, threats of violence and abuse by a ‘supporter’ of the Karims with inside knowledge and a remarkable way of denying on the record facts. It was also very funny. And that’s another reason.

      This is not a site based on journalistic or investigative reporting of dodgy solicitors. Just not our remit. So any accusation that we didn’t report such and such a case is simply by the by. Unlike our posts on housing law, my occasional naughty steps are under no (self-imposed) duty to be thorough and comprehensive. And they are clearly, even gleefully, not. Of course, if you want to make the fact that one naughty step post of eight concerns a BME firm of solicitors into an accusation of systematic racism, you are welcome to have a go, but you will have to excuse me for not considering that there is any case to answer – meaning that any further accusations are going to have to be backed up by rather more than gestural name-calling in order to actually appear on the blog.

      I’ve also read Taleb. A mildly interesting critique of what we old pseudo lefty poseurs used to call mythical thinking among the market makers, but otherwise, ho hum. Agreed that the current situation is hardly a black swan, plenty of people have been predicting it for some time. They just got ignored.

      Oh and I have deleted one of your comments on this post today on the basis that it is the same comment – nothing more sinister ;-)

      Reply
  27. simply wondered

    while we are banging our respective drums, can i just mention sexism? ‘Mr. Psuedo left wing housing lawyer extraordinadire'[excellent word – hope it’s not a typo!] (is that you nl? maybe you need it as a masthead) doesn’t seem to have solved that particular problem of the british legal system yet. although the bar council clearly have, as the spiffy new pupillage portal (‘your gateway to disappointment – again’TM) bears a lovely picture of no fewer than 2 (count them) women who we must assume are barristers. and one is a woc! i can almost hear the labi sifre rolling out across the lawns of lincoln’s inn.
    or maybe it simply means there are 2 whole pupillages available through olpas this year.

    Reply
    • NL

      I take it that I was the pseudo lefty at issue, though I can’t lay claim to being extraordinadire. But, to be honest, there are so many pseudo lefty housing lawyers knocking round the blog these days, it is hard to be sure.

      Damn, I’ve just realised the pseudo left wing etc allegation was in the version of the comment that I’ve deleted as being (otherwise) identical. Let me quote the passage for the record…

      I have to ask what were you really motivated by Mr. Psuedo left wing housing lawyer extraordinadire was it the black thing, a brown thing a female thing or just a thing ?

      Sorry Emily – no intention to remove your invective, although, if I might make a suggestion for the future, a little originality is the spice of insult.

      Reply
  28. Emily Caye

    NL : Aut tace aut loquere meliora silencio

    Reply
    • NL

      Bye Emily.

      Reply
  29. peter

    nl shall i provide you with a latin translation? come on this is the most exciting debate on your site

    Reply
    • NL

      No need and on the contrary, it is tediously predictable, respectively.

      And on that basis, comments are closed on this post.

      Reply

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