Author: Syedur Rahman
2 November 2021
2 min read
Syedur Rahman of Rahman Ravelli details a case where an application to rely on a defendant’s spent convictions was granted
In Sayed Ahmed Rahbarpoor, Brook Green (London) Associates LLP v Khalid Suliman, Saad Abdul Jalil, Persons Unknown, Naplex Properties Ltd, an application for permission to rely on a defendant’s spent convictions for making false representations was granted, as issues of dishonesty were central to the proceedings. The claimants’ application for summary judgment was refused, given that the court was not able to determine the allegations of dishonesty without a trial. But the defendants were ordered to make a payment to the court as security for the claimants’ costs.
In Sayed Ahmed Rahbarpoor, Brook Green (London) Associates LLP v Khalid Suliman, Saad Abdul Jalil, Persons Unknown, Naplex Properties Ltd, the proceedings related to a property. The first claimant (Rahbarpoor) claimed that he was the registered owner of a property in West London, 121 Sinclair Road. He contended that the defendants had unlawfully trespassed on the property since 2017, had taken over the property and misappropriated rental income.
The defendants agreed that the first claimant was the registered freehold proprietor. But they said that the first defendant (Suliman) was the beneficial owner, having acquired ownership of it in a property swap deal. The first defendant said the swap was evidenced by a written declaration of trust, signed by himself, the first claimant and the second defendant on 14 January 2001, and witnessed by a solicitor. The defendants further claimed that they had occupied the land since 2001 through tenants, sub-tenants and licensees, with the claimant’s consent.
The first claimant denied executing the declaration of trust, stating that it was a forgery. He also denied that the defendants were in occupation since 2001. The claimants issued simple possession proceedings in June 2018. Due to a number of factors, the five-day trial is listed for 15 November 2021.
Application for permission to rely on spent convictions
The first defendant had two convictions which were imposed in 2010. One was for making a fraudulent representation to staff at the Land Registry and one was for making a false representation to staff at Companies House.
The claimants wanted to rely on the charge sheets and the fact that the first defendant was imprisoned. As an alternative, they wanted to seek permission to rely on the convictions under s7(3) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This permits the court to admit evidence regarding spent convictions where it is: "…satisfied, in the light of any considerations which appear to it to be relevant (including any evidence which has been or may thereafter be put before it), that justice cannot be done in the case except by admitting or requiring evidence relating to a person's spent convictions or to circumstances ancillary thereto…".
The nature of the defendant’s convictions was highly relevant to the allegations that the declaration of trust was forged. The claimants met the threshold of showing that justice could not be done without admission of the convictions, which highlighted the defendant’s modus operandi in attempting to obtain control of properties by similar means. Additionally, there would be little to no prejudice to the defendants if the evidence was admitted.
It was not possible for the court to determine that the defendants’ defence had no prospect of succeeding. The court could not, therefore, grant summary judgment. But the court decided that the evidence of dishonesty was strong, and it was unlikely that the defendants would successfully defend their claim. Due to this, the court ordered the defendants to pay £50,000 into court as security for the claimants.
In order to have the spent convictions admitted into evidence, the claimants had to show that justice could not be done in the case unless that happened. They achieved that.
But the claimants were unable to obtain summary judgement, which indicates just how high the bar is set when it comes to obtaining such an outcome.
Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, international arbitration, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.