SDT prevents lawyer from returning 21 years after his disbarment | New

A banned lawyer who waited 21 years to try to return has been told he cannot re-enter the profession. The Lawyers Disciplinary Tribunal said it was concerned that Minesh Ruparelia failed to address the core of his initial misconduct and was not sufficiently supervised in the role he wanted to take on.

Ruparelia was deregistered in 2001 for making abusive withdrawals from his company’s client account, failing to cooperate with the regulator producing misleading accounts.

But that did not mark the end of his legal career. After a stint in car sales, he began working as an immigration clerk at the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner, then in 2011 began trading at Just Legal Group, of which he was the sole director.

He has advised on all aspects of immigration and asylum and has also been authorized by the Department of Justice to deal with employment law matters. It continues to be inspected by OISC and MoJ and no issues have arisen since.

Ruparelia had met Trushar Punatar, sole shareholder of North London firm Punatar & Company Solicitors, over 20 years ago and had since made two unsuccessful applications for permission to be employed by the firm as a legal clerk .

Now, Punatar, a crime specialist, wanted Ruparelia to move to London and help set up an immigration practice in his office as an assistant solicitor.

Ruparelia said reversing her disbarment judgment now felt like “reading about someone else.” He didn’t recognize this person and said he was young and didn’t want to accept that what he was doing was wrong.

Now he has said he has an 11-year ‘proven track record’ of immigration, backed up by a host of testimonials, and insisted he was fit to return to the profession. Punatar also testified in court, saying his future employee would be fully supervised and would not be able to accept or hold money from customers.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority opposed the request, while admitting that Ruparelia had waited many years to request a return and had undergone training. But the regulator said it did not have “full confidence” in Ruparelia’s rehabilitation.

The court was ‘troubled’ by the lack of potential oversight given he would be the sole winner of the company’s immigration fees. There was reportedly no one more senior in the department and “identifiable concerns” remained about Ruparelia’s fitness and propriety. His application was dismissed and he was ordered to pay £2,067 in costs.

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