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.
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.
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.