A law firm director has been struck off after admitting misconduct including authorising unwarranted bills of costs and fabricating grants of probate.
Eilish Adams, listed as a director of Brentford firm The Law House Limited, also accepted she authorised the misallocation of £1.27m in client funds, giving rise to a shortage of £422,000 in the client account, and that she misappropriated £4,365 to buy herself jewellery. The Law House Limited is currently in administration.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that a number of complaints were received by the SRA about Adams, who was admitted in 2004.
Investigators found that over more than four years a number of irregular payments of clients funds, held on behalf of deceased estates, were paid out to beneficiaries of unrelated estates.
The misallocation of client funds was accommodated, in part, by teeming and lading - disguising the shortfall by diverting funds received from unrelated matters.
The tribunal heard that Adams issued bills coming to more than £75,000 either in excess of agreed fees or where the fees charged were excessive and unjustified.
She was instructed to assist in the administration of estates, but in doing so she forged or procured forgeries of eight grants of probate. These were used by the firm in the administration of these estates.
In a regulatory settlement agreement with the SRA, Adams admitted she had acted dishonestly and did not seek to plead exceptional circumstances to warrant anything other than a strike-off. In mitigation not agreed with the regulator, she provided details of work pressures at the time and stated she was ‘profoundly sorry and ashamed of her actions and the harm caused to others’.
The tribunal agreed to her being struck off and ordered she pay £25,000 in costs.