A former equity partner with international firm Fieldfisher today appeared before the tribunal accused of backdating documents and passing them off to the court.
Stephen Evans-Jones, 45, is alleged to have created six documents in relation to a possession claim, signing to confirm they were from February 2018. He is also alleged to have allowed the documents to be attached to a claim form, telling the court that the documents were created on this date.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that metadata from the firm’s IT system showed the documents were in fact created and printed in a 12-minute period on 2 May 2018.
Inderjit Johal, opening the SRA’s case, said Evans-Jones had created the documents, printed them out, signed them and given them to his PA to send out to colleagues.
Johal said: ‘He claims he didn’t know the letters were signed. It is more likely than not that he signed them…. he was dishonest and if you don’t find he was dishonest I would invite you to find he clearly lacked integrity.’
Johal added that the real estate specialist ‘knowingly misled’ the court by allowing letters he had backdated to be attached to the particulars of claim.
‘He felt he had little choice but to agree to make the witness statement and thereby continuing with the deception.’
The tribunal heard that Evans-Jones, who was based in the firm’s Manchester office, was a ‘heavy hitter’ and a highly regarded partner who billed between £2.5m and £3m from clients in the year before the alleged matter. He had at least 15 people working under him and had no record of any regulatory or disciplinary misconduct.
A solicitor since 2002, he was placed on gardening leave by the firm in March 2020 and resigned last November. He is now a director with another firm.
Evans-Jones is due to give evidence tomorrow, but the tribunal heard that in his defence, he believed that the documents in question had already been sent out but were not saved on the file. He denies acting dishonestly or without integrity.
The hearing continues.