London high court’s default judgment for £100,000 by Lawrence Karat, who had claimed negligence advice by the firm last year, has been set aside with the appellate court last week refusing to grant an appeal.Fox Mandal Delhi has released a statement that the
The firm said in a press release that the high court had “earlier set aside” Karat’s claim and held:
In the ordinary way, London would not seem the most convenient place for a claim by a Hong Kong company against an Indian defendant relating to the professional conduct of Indian lawyers going about their duties in respect of the Indian patent system; I will give that as an indication. However, we are a long way from that because at the moment the given claimant is still Mr. Karat, who has got to give thought to how far he, or rather his company, is going to continue with this action.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeal passed an order on 13 February “refusing to entertain the appeal of the claimant ie. Lawrence Karat as being ‘totally without merit’”.
[Update: Download the appeal court’s order here]
Fox had instructed Penningtons litigation head and India-co-head Rustam Dubash, who, according to Fox’s statement, argued that the claim was only served on Fox on 23 July, two months after default judgment of £100,000 was entered into against it for not appearing to defend the case.
Penningtons also contested jurisdiction, and, according to Fox’s statement, said that Karat’s company and not Karat himself was a client of Fox, that Karat did not specify details of the alleged negligence and that Karat’s lawyers were aware of Fox’s addresses but “deliberately choose to ignore the same and served the claim at an office which was closed”.
After Karat declined to withdraw the case, Penningtons moved to set aside the judgment and the London Court of Appeal “recently” held that Karat’s appeal to it was “totally without merit”, stated Fox’s press release.
Karat told Legally India that he had not heard from his lawyers, Singhania & Co in London, about the outcome of the appeal, and declined to comment further pending Singhania’s response.
Fox Mandal Delhi managing partner Som Mandal said in the statement: “We are glad that our stand in the case is vindicated and even the Court of Appeal England dismissed their appeal ‘... as been totally without merit..’.
“The claim was absolute false and brought out deliberately against our firm to damage our good will. We have documentary evidence to show that the claimant himself was push deliberately by the solicitor to follow up this claim. The solicitor concerned charged the claimant a success fee and lured the claimant to file this case against us. We are considering various options available to us against all concerned for bringing this false claim.”
Mandal was not reachable for further comment at the time of going to press. Singhania & Co London was not reachable for comment to Legally India at the time of going to press.
According to the particulars of claim submitted to the court by Karat in 2013, Fox lawyers had allegedly mismanaged his patent application in India after Mandal won the mandate after representing in 2008 in London that Fox was one of India’s largest firms. Karat had claimed that Fox was negligent, and had lost files and acted in an “unprofessional manner” as the case was handled by a number of lawyers due to high attrition at the firm.
The claim, as first reported by Legally India, is the first reported instance of an Indian law firm getting sued by a client, whether in India or abroad.