• Application 11657-2017
• Admitted 2010
• Hearings 27, 28 November 2017
• Reasons 4 January 2018
The SDT ordered that the respondent should be suspended from practice for two years from 28 November 2017, that period of suspension being suspended for three years from the same date, subject to compliance by the respondent with the terms of the following restriction order. The respondent might not practise as a sole practitioner or sole manager or sole owner of an authorised or recognised body; practise other than under the direct supervision of a partner or member of her employers; be a partner or member of a limited liability partnership, legal disciplinary practice or alternative business structure or other authorised or recognised body; be a compliance officer for legal practice or a compliance officer for finance and administration; hold client money; be a signatory on any client account; or work as a solicitor other than in employment approved by the SRA. She had to inform any prospective employer of the existence of those conditions and the reasons for them. If she was found to have breached any of the conditions during the period of three years under restriction, activation by the SDT of the period of suspension of two years might follow in addition to any sanction imposed for the breach of condition(s). If the period of three years under restriction was successfully completed, the suspended suspension from practice of two years would cease to have effect. There was liberty to either party to apply to vary the above conditions.
The respondent had made statements to a client concerning litigation which she was retained to conduct upon behalf of that client which she knew to be untrue and misleading, thereby breaching principles 2, 4 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011 and failing to achieve outcome 1.16 of the SRA Code of Conduct 2011.
She had made statements to her employer concerning that same litigation which she knew to be untrue and misleading, thereby breaching principles 2 and 6.
She had created backdated letters to NHSLA, to B and S University Hospitals, to Professor MW, and to [G], thereby breaching principles 2 and 6.
The respondent had acted dishonestly in respect of all of the above.
The dishonesty allegations alone justified strike-off. The respondent relied upon exceptional circumstances to persuade the SDT to impose a lesser sanction.
The root cause of the respondent’s misconduct, including the allegations of dishonesty, was the combination of the culture of the firm in terms of pressures placed on junior solicitors and her mental ill-health arising from the pressures of work allied with difficult personal circumstances.
The SDT was convinced that the respondent had learned from her mistakes as evidenced by the fact that she had worked trouble-free for the last three years. The circumstances were exceptional.
The appropriate and proportionate sanction was a period of suspension, itself suspended for a period of time subject to compliance with the terms of the restriction order which would be imposed. The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £9,511.