The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck off a solicitor who admitted faking documents to cover the fact he had not carried out work.
Matthew Charles Curtis, who ran his own firm in Runcorn, received £1,550 from a local community centre to change the name of the holding company and apply for a new alcohol licence, the tribunal heard.
But seven months later, the client contacted Curtis to say the confirmation documents had not yet arrived and the licence was about to become invalid.
The tribunal heard that Curtis then produced documents purporting to be from Companies House and the local licensing authority.
The managing director of the community centre then made enquiries and found the documents to be fabricated.
Following an interview with Cheshire Police, Curtis accepted a conditional caution for making and supplying a fraudulent document from the council contrary to the Fraud Act 2006. He agreed to pay £1,000 in compensation.
Having been charged with four allegations by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Curtis, who was born in 1984 and admitted in 2009, said he admitted the charges and had applied to have his name taken from the roll.
In an email last month, Curtis said the matter had cost him his marriage and his financial circumstances were dire. He said his actions were not motivated by personal gain, but were the results of trying to ‘buy time to satisfy a difficult client’.
The tribunal said Curtis’s motivation appeared to be ‘self-preservation’ and his actions were planned and involved fabricating more than one document.
‘[Curtis] was the community centre’s solicitor and acted in breach of a position of trust. He committed fraud and accepted a conditional caution for fraud.
‘[Curtis] was in sole control of his actions and had five years' post-qualification experience. He was culpable for his actions.’
The tribunal accepted Curtis had paid back the fees but said his misconduct was ‘fairly sophisticated’ and he had not apologised to the client.
He was struck off an ordered to pay £3,000 in SRA costs.