Friday June 21, 2024

Pakistan Post told to compensate lawyer who missed call to bar ceremony in London

By Yousuf Katpar
June 04, 2024
This representational image shows the gavel in a courtroom. — Unsplash/File
This representational image shows the gavel in a courtroom. — Unsplash/File

A consumer court has ordered Pakistan Post to pay Rs1.3 million in compensation to a lawyer who missed his ‘call to the bar’ ceremony in London due to “negligent” conduct of the state-owned courier company.

Ahrar Jawaid, a lawyer, filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Court (East) against the Pakistan Post for failing to deliver his ‘call declaration’ letter to Lincoln’s Inn in London, as a result of which he didn’t receive a visa support letter, preventing him from travelling to the UK and incurring losses.

Judicial Magistrate Fahmida Sahoowal allowed the complainant’s claim, ordering the Pakistan Post to pay him Rs246,909 in compensation on account of loss due to unused air tickets and Rs1 million damages on account of “negligent, faulty and defective services, physical discomfort, mental agony and financial losses”.

magistrate further ordered paying Rs60,000 as litigation cost to the lawyer. She warned that in case of failure to comply with the order, the respondents -- Pakistan Post International Mail office deputy controller and its Clifton office senior post-master -- shall be “severely punished with imprisonment for one-month term and Rs50,000 fine”.

The complainant stated in his plea that he booked a consignment from the Pakistan Post’s Clifton office on February 16, 2023 for delivery of his ‘Call Declaration’ to Lincoln’s Inn in London.

He said he was a student member of the UK society for barristers and had passed his bar training course in 2022, adding that he intended to qualify as a barrister, for which he had to attend his call to the bar ceremony (graduation ceremony) at Lincoln’s Inn in March 2023.

The complainant said that the call declaration is a hand-signed document which must be sent to Lincoln’s Inn in its physical form by individuals who intend to be called to the graduation ceremony. On March 2, the Pakistan Post’s tracking website showed that his consignment had reached London and been received by the sorting center. The website of Royal Mail, the PP’s UK delivery partner, also showed the same status.

Relieved, Jawaid said he booked air tickets for travelling to London on March 4. He said he kept following up with the courier company through phone calls and in-person visits, but to his dismay, he was kept on false hopes of delivery.

“The complainant was time and again reassured that since the undelivered document has reached London, UK, therefore, it will be delivered to Lincoln’s Inn within 1-2 days but until today the Call Declaration has not been received due to which the Complainant has suffered financial losses as well as mental agony,” he argued. Consequently, he said he couldn’t receive a visa supporting letter from the society, due to which he missed the ceremony that has resulted in a financial loss.

The lawyer said he sent a legal notice to the Pakistan Post, demanding Rs1 million as compensation for the financial losses and mental agony. Initially, he went on, the Pakistan Post shifted the responsibility onto the UK partner’s shoulders but later sent a letter accepting the liability for their negligent services and offered a compensation of Rs11,000, which was nothing compared to the losses incurred by him.

The magistrate observed that the burden to prove the claim lies on the shoulders of complainant. “Due to the negligent conduct of respondents he sustained mental disturbance and his trust was shaken on them. He preferred Pakistan Post as a most reliable and trustworthy courier company throughout Pakistan and sent important documents through it.

The time and energy of the complainant was consumed in useless activity of tracking the consignment. He suffered from anxiety, mental and physical discomfort due to this conduct of respondents,” she said.