A young solicitor who fabricated insurance documents to progress her personal injury cases has been banned from the profession.
Kate Louise Sanderson, formerly with north west firm Express Solicitors, falsified policy schedules which appeared to increase her clients’ cover to £50,000 and £100,000 respectively. She had been a solicitor for two years at the time of the misconduct.
Sanderson, who turned 31 last year, said she would not have known how to create the policy schedules and had no recollection of doing anything untoward.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard evidence from the Solicitors Regulation Authority there was nothing on record to show indemnity cover had been increased and the schedules betrayed a number of irregularities – including an incorrect start date and poor quality of copies.
Sanderson went on to create attendance notice and emails to substantiate her claims that she had been liaising with the indemnity insurer over increased cover. The tribunal heard emails purportedly sent to the insurer were sent with a full stop at the end of the address to ensure they would appear to have been sent but would not be received.
The tribunal heard that Sanderson used other documents as a template for fabricating emails and that her assertions the policy schedules were genuine was ‘neither credible nor possible’.
The SRA submitted that Sanderson had acted to avoid the claimant being liable to pay the defendant’s costs. ‘This was not the result of a clear and well thought out fraud, but rather bore the hallmarks of a rushed and panicked decision to try to conceal her error from the internal scrutiny of the firm, or to persuade the insurers to pay, or both,’ the tribunal heard.
Sanderson accepted some details ‘did not add up’ but insisted she did not create any false documents or act dishonestly.
But the tribunal said it had ‘no hesitation’ in finding her actions dishonest and that no honest solicitor would fabricate documents, letters and attendance notes so as to conceal an omission.
In mitigation, Sanderson said she derived no personal gain from the matter and she had been in the early stages of her career, with an unblemished record since 2015.
The tribunal said she had not shown any exceptional circumstances which were enough to prevent a sanction of striking off. She was also ordered to pay £9,000 costs.