Paralegal banned for settling PI claim without authority

Injury: Paralegal admitted dishonesty

A personal injury paralegal who settled his client’s claim without her authority for less than counsel had advised, and then misled her into retrospectively agreeing, has been banned from the profession.

Vijay Parekh, who was at Coventry firm Ward & Rider for 14 years prior to the incident, cannot work for a firm regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) without its permission.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published yesterday by the SRA, in January 2019 Mr Parekh made an offer to the defendant’s solicitors to settle his client claim for £25,000. It was accepted, but the client had not given Mr Parekh authority or instructions to make the offer and had no knowledge of it.

The following day, Mr Parekh emailed his client that the defendant had made a final offer to settle for £25,000 and he advised her to accept it.

He explained that counsel had valued her claim in the region of £30,000, which the court may reduce to between £24,000 to £26,000. The client agreed to settle for £25,000.

However, counsel had actually valued it at £33,750 and advised that offers be made between £30,000 and £35,000.

The firm identified concerns about Mr Parekh’s conduct of the claim following a review of the file and began a disciplinary investigation, but the paralegal resigned with immediate effect.

The firm told the client what had happened and compensated her for her potential loss.

Mr Parekh admitted that he had acted dishonestly and that the banning order was appropriate.

The SRA said that, in deciding that the agreed outcome was proportionate, the SRA took into account Mr Parekh’s mitigation that there had been no other concerns about his conduct during his 14 years at the firm, which audited his files after this incident and found no issues on them.

He also admitted his conduct and expressed remorse for his actions.

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