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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lawyer accused of stealing and another of cheating... Justice = expectation of fair treatment


One often gets into arguments and disputes…… in all fairness, the expectation is to be treated ‘fair’.  This expectation of ‘fair treatment’ and not subjected to any prejudice can in one sense be called ‘Justice’…….. everywhere be it in Office, home, local place or on the streets, one expects to be treated fairly and not subjected to any undue criticism or fine.  We feel, we deserve equal and impartial treatment. Because we have this desire for equality and fairness, the assurance of justice is usually a prerequisite for a good society.

What is ‘fair and just’ can be quite complicated….. it may quite often be far away than what we think it to be… so there is the judicial system, law enforcing agencies and more… The word jurisprudence derives from the Latin term juris prudentia, which means "the study, knowledge, or science of law."  ~ and in Court of Law, people seek the help of Advocates / lawyers / solicitors – who would place their viewpoint in the proper legal perspective and ensure that justice prevails…. Or that is what you expect your advocate to do.. there could be many occasions, where cases are lost due to improper handling or ineptitude of the lawyer holding one’s brief.

There are occasions, when such lawyers themselves are found guilty or at mistake……. NZ Herald of date reports of a penal action taken against a lawyer accused of stealing $3m of client money.   A life ban for a lawyer accused of stealing $3 million from clients was "the only appropriate penalty", the Law Society says. John Milne, a lawyer from Dunedin, is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over the long-term fraud allegations.  A Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal decided to strike him off its roll of barristers and solicitors. Milne appeared at the tribunal in Christchurch after four professional misconduct charges were brought by the Otago Standards Committee, relating to receiving and dealing with clients' funds.

Milne's counsel submitted that the money was lent to him personally, but the tribunal was satisfied the loans were made to him in the course of his work as a solicitor. Standards committee lawyers argued he was not a fit and proper person to be a lawyer and should be struck off. The tribunal panel agreed, concluding after a short hearing that Milne had breached trust and fundamental obligations of a lawyer, causing substantial stress to clients. Costs were reserved, and a full written decision were to follow. New Zealand Law Society President Chris Moore said said gross abuse of trust was "reprehensible". "This offending is compounded by the fact that as a lawyer he has totally failed in his duties to his clients, to the justice system and to the rest of the legal profession," he said. Mr Moore said the Law Society was keenly aware that the actions of Milne could harm the image of lawyers.

Some felt that it was a foregone conclusion that Milne would be struck off and they felt sorry for the people who trusted the lawyer with their money and that they have little chance of recovering it.  Milne was adjudged bankrupt in the High Court at Christchurch last November.

Back in our own land, The Hindu reports that Judge of the Special Court for CBI cases, Coimbatore, Joseph David, on Monday convicted two persons, including a vehicle owner and practising lawyer, in a case of false insurance claim.  According to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of the CBI, the case was registered in 2006 on the directions of the Madras High Court while disposing of petitions relating to false insurance claims in accident cases.

According to the prosecution, three occupants of a car died after the vehicle collided against a tree on August 13, 1995. The car involved did not have valid insurance at the time of accident. Inspector R. Sugumaran registered a case that it was a lorry that caused the accident. The lorry had insurance cover provided by the National Insurance Company. The prosecution claimed that fabrication of the case was carried out by advocate P. Thangamani from Erode, lorry owner-cum-driver P. Manickam and Inspector Sugumaran. The lawyer induced the parents of the deceased and had the claims filed before the Motor Vehicle Accidents Claims Tribunal in Tirupur. When the National Insurance Company filed an appeal before the Madras High Court seeking a CBI investigation challenging the claim, Mr. Thangamani filed a petition withdrawing the claims without the knowledge of the claimants and after forging their signatures.

The CBI registered a case against Manickam, Sugumaran and Thangamani. Sugumaran died during the trial period and the charges against him abated. On completion of the trial, the Judge found the first accused P. Manickam and the third accused lawyer P. Thangamani guilty and sentenced them to undergo three years of rigorous imprisonment each and a fine of Rs 5,000 each on both of them.

But don’t get overawed…….. Justice prevails and it is only a fair expectation to be treated fairly….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th April 2013.

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