A newly-qualified solicitor who felt she was ‘carrying the weight of an entire firm on her shoulders’ has been struck off after concealing issues on a client matter for months.
Katherine Gilroy told the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal she had been ‘overwhelmed with work’ and panicked when she received a number of documents needing her attention.
Gilroy had then purported to send emails to another firm and to her principal when she had deliberately used an incorrect email address and knew the emails would not get through. She then forwarded that email to her client in order to mislead him into believing it was sent properly.
Gilroy’s firm at the time of her misconduct was not named in the SDT judgment, but it was identified as central London firm Fortune Law Limited in the SRA’s decision notice to prosecute. The Gazette has attempted to contact Fortune Law for comment.
The tribunal heard Gilroy had been admitted as a solicitor in 2017 and was employed as an assistant solicitor before resigning in February 2018 following an investigation. She had been suspended after admitting to her supervisor that she had concealed receipt of letters during pre-action disclosure on a business dispute where Fortune Law represented the claimant.
The tribunal heard Gilroy was the fee earner in respect of a client matter and only she was aware that the firm had received certain letters and court orders. She deliberately concealed them from her principal, her client and counsel over a seven-month period and this led to defendant’s solicitors obtaining an interim charging order and a restriction over her client’s property.
Her firm ended up paying around £3,500 to cover the issue and a restriction was placed on the client’s property.
In mitigation, not endorsed by the SRA, Gilroy said she had a history of work-related anxiety resulting in her physically collapsing, taking medication and being off work. She claimed her firm did not put adequate systems or resources in place to support her, and she was afraid of the consequences of failing to disclose or reply to letter, until the situation escalated out of her control.
Despite her being qualified for just a year, she claimed her workload included administration, marketing, accounting, credit control and office management.
She admitted all charges against her except for dishonesty, and agreed not to apply for restoration to the roll on the basis that the SRA withdrew this allegation. The striking off followed an agreed outcome between Gilroy and the SRA.
The tribunal said Gilroy’s conduct was deliberate, calculated and repeated over seven months. She was struck off and ordered to pay £3,301 in costs.