Solicitor, 28, who fabricated court letters is struck off

Topics: Regulation and compliance

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A young solicitor at an international firm was today struck off at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for fabricating court documents to cover up the fact that a case had been struck out at the county court.

While an associate solicitor in the real estate litigation team at DLA Piper, Laura Catherine Holloway created two letters and a reinstatement application after failing to tell her firm or the client that the claim had been halted due to an unpaid fee.

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Today’s tribunal heard that Holloway, 28, had been called into a meeting at the firm’s Sheffield office in October 2013 with her supervising solicitor and an HR director, following a contact from the client.

She assured them the application to reinstate the case was made, with letters sent to Croydon County Court (pictured). After a 15-minute break to locate the documents, she presented them at the meeting.

But a subsequent internal investigation found the court had received no such documents. Holloway admitted at her next disciplinary hearing she had ‘reproduced’ the letters and application. She admitted to her bosses that she had been dishonest but said there were mitigating factors.

She was dismissed immediately and her subsequent appeal failed. The case was then referred to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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The SRA charged Holloway, who was two years' post-qualification, with four allegations, including dishonestly fabricating court letters and misleading her employer.

She did not appear at today’s hearing despite four separate attempts to notify her of the proceedings.

Andrew Bullock, representing the SRA, said: ‘She was deliberately concealing from her employer the fact that the claim had been struck out and she had failed to rectify the situation.

‘Even as a young and comparatively inexperienced solicitor working in the no doubt pressured environment of the real estate litigation team of a major law firm, she must have realised that doing that was wrong. If she did not appreciate it was wrong you could legitimately expect some explanation to have been forthcoming at some stage.’

Holloway, from Sheffield, was struck off the roll of solicitors and ordered to pay £5,900 costs. She has 21 days to appeal. 

Readers' comments (58)

  • This young lady has clearly acted inappropriately in attempting to cover up an error by lying to her employees.

    However, one cannot help but feel compassion for her. A career wasted and for what ?

    She has then made a second flawed error in not appearing before the tribunal. An apology, with an explanation and some mitigation may have lessoned the punishment.

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  • I doubt it very much. Although it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for the waste of her career, the fact that she appears to have forged documents in pursuance of a course of dishonesty must surely have meant that being struck off was inevitable.

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  • Agreed, the SDT may have given her some leniency on the basis that she clearly panicked and it was a one-off spur of the moment thing rather than any pre-planned dishonesty.

    Very sad...

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  • This sort of thing should be presented too trainees with the advice that if you make a serious error report it immediately to your partner, don't try and deal with the problem yourself.

    Yes, it will be uncomfortable to admit your error and face the consequences but so much less so than to slip down the slope and end up doing something as crassly stupid and dishonest as this.

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  • Two, to, too, yes I know the difference, it's just this mobile touchscreen thing.

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  • While there is absolutely no excuse for her action the situation begs the question of what support and supervision was she given and what was her pressure work to meet targets etc.

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  • I found the picture of Croyden County Court both relevant and informative...

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  • To my team. I promise never to make you feel so bad that you lie. working as a lawyer can be a soul destroying occupation - to combat it, let's work hard but keep smiling. please trust that if you ever come to me with a problem, I promise (I understand what this means) to do my best to help you. We all make mistakes.

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  • Yes. Why was there no support in her firm to which she felt able to apply.

    We've all at one time or another made a perceived horlicks of something. I did. I went to my supervising partner and to.d him that he might sack me. He considered and said that it wasn't as bad as that and helped me sort it out.

    Those were the days.

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  • What was her "supervising solicitor" doing? He should at least have asked for regular updates and had a look at the file occasionally. That is what "supervising" means isn't it? I totally agree that when we have less experienced colleagues working to us we must encourage them to trust us enough to tell us when they have made a mistake without fear of some terrible retribution. I do think DLA Piper and its HR director have something to learn fom this.

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