How it might have looked
Ince's former Singapore Managing Partner has been fined by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, after he was convicted in Singapore for “unwanted touching” of three women in a bar.
In 2019, a Singapore court convicted Devandran Karunakaran for using "criminal force" against three women on a night out in May 2018. He was subsequently fired by Ince.
The SRA has now brought the matter before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The tribunal noted that the Singapore court had ruled that the lawyer had, without consent, stroked a 48 year-old female's back and waist; stroked a 28 year-old female from her left shoulder to her left waist; and stroked a 30 year-old female "from her right waist to her buttock" and held her waist "to pull her towards him". In reaching its decision, the court also took into consideration "worded offences" that the lawyer made to one of the women.
The Singapore court said the senior shipping lawyer knew it to be "likely" his actions would "outrage the modesty" of the women.
It was an eventful night for Karunakaran, who also "uttered threatening and abusive words" to a doorman "by threatening to make him lose his job and uttering the words 'F*** you mate," repeatedly. He reinforced that threat and his abuse by telling the doorman that he was a lawyer.
It was noted at the SDT hearing that "all allegations" brought by the SRA "were found proved including sexual motivation".
The tribunal slapped the senior shipping lawyer with a £9,000 fine, and awarded full costs of £23,850 to the SRA.
The tribunal upheld the SRA's allegations that the lawyer's actions against the women "were unwanted, inappropriate and/or sexually motivated". The panel found that Karunakaran had breached the SRA principle of integrity and/or had acted in a way which would likely bring into disrepute an overseas practice.
A spokesman for Karunakaran told RollOnFriday: “It is not possible to comment fully until the detailed judgement is issued. However, the level of fine indicates that the tribunal did not assess this matter as ‘very serious’, since the fine was at the lower end of the band below that category."
"It is consistent with the Singapore court’s view that these offences, five years ago, were minor offences without premeditation which were fleeting in nature," he said.
The spokesman disputed the SDT's findings of sexual intent, stating that "while ‘unwanted’ touching was a complaint" by the women in the Singapore court case, they had not accused Karunakaran "of ‘sexual’ touching” in those proceedings.
“There was no allegation of sexual motivation in Singapore and he was not charged with that,” the spokesman asserted. “The word ‘sexual’ was never mentioned in Singapore by anyone, not least by the judge. That was the SRA's own allegation and no one else’s."
Ince did not respond to a request for comment.