“Devious” litigant tried to mislead court over previous ruling

Birss: Transcript was not authentic

A “devious” litigant produced an inaccurate transcript of an earlier judgment in the latest of a series of “forgeries” of court documents, a High Court judge has found.

Mr Justice Birss said the effort by Sharooz Ghassemian to rewrite what he told the court last year was “another example of the claimant’s deviousness and dishonest behaviour”.

Mr Ghassemian was the subject of an extended civil restraint order (ECRO) in relation to proceedings over a London property that expired on 19 October 2019.

On 3 December, Birss J decided to continue the ECRO, recording that, since 2011, there had been “a bewildering range of unsuccessful applications, appeals and fresh proceedings” brought to try and prevent enforcement of unpaid service charges and costs.

He said: “In recent years a number of documents have appeared which purport to be orders of the court but which seem to be forgeries, produced by Mr Ghassemian.”

The ruling also noted that, in 2018, Mr Ghassemian produced a copy of an application notice in Court of Appeal proceedings which, in a handwritten addition, purported to remit the application to Wandsworth County Court.

The Court of Appeal had made no such order, and Birss J found to the civil standard that it was “another example of Mr Ghassemian’s conduct, which I can only characterise as devious and dishonest”.

Mr Ghassemian told the judge in December that he has not done anything in the period between the ECRO ending and being renewed. However, he had in fact issued a possession claim at Wandsworth County Court, and this led to a hearing last week before Birss J over whether it should be stayed because of the ECRO.

The bundle and skeleton argument of counsel representing the claimant included a copy of what purported to be Birss J’s 3 December ruling. But this recorded what Mr Ghassemian had said as being that he had not done anything in that period “in the Business & Property Courts”.

“That is not what the approved version of the judgment says,” Birss J said. “It records that the claimant said he had not done anything. His statement was not limited to the Business and Property Courts. The significance of the difference is that the Business and Property Courts are part of the High Court and so exclude the county court…

“Therefore the version quoted in the skeleton would be true despite the claimant having issued the county court claim on 26 November, whereas the version in the approved judgment would not be true.”

The judge said he had checked the unapproved transcripts – of which there were two “for some reason” – which both backed up that Mr Ghassemian had not specified the Business & Property Courts.

Birss J said: “The version of the judgment which appears in the claimant’s bundle and purports to be an approved judgment does not indicate where it came from. No firm of transcribers is mentioned on it.

“I infer it is not authentic. Rather it seems to be another example of the claimant’s deviousness and dishonest behaviour…

“On the face of it the claimant seems to have misled the court on 3 December with the result that, on the assumption that the order which was made does not prohibit the county court action without leave, a different or further order might have been made which did expressly do so.”

Birss J continued the stay on the action until he could hold a hearing after the expiry of the stay imposed on all possession proceedings due to the coronavirus.

    Readers Comments

  • Shane says:

    What di you do when it is the Courts Service that produces inaccutate transcripts, not once, but 3 times, each slightly different where vital points were concerned. Sometimes, even the “tamperproof” recordings have had bits removed.

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