Ban for PI fee-earner who used Covid as excuse for missing deadlines

Slater & Gordon: Fee-earner tried to blame scanning

A fee-earner at Slater & Gordon who falsely claimed he had missed litigation deadlines because of scanning errors and not being in the office due to the pandemic has been banned from working in law firms.

Michael Berry worked as a legal advisor in the personal injury department at Slater & Gordon in Manchester for a year to October 2020.

A notice published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said that, on 6 July 2020, he filed with the court and served on the defendant, an application for relief from sanctions and an extension of time to serve a claim form, particulars of claim, medical evidence and schedule of special damages. The extended date for service was 20 June 2020.

They were supported by his witness statement, which “falsely and/or misleadingly purported to evidence” that he was not aware that the court had made an order on the extended service a year earlier because it had not been scanned onto the firm’s case management system.

He further claimed that, due to the Covid restrictions, he was not able to review the paper file in the office and so the order was first discovered on 6 July 2020 during an audit. He said counsel had then been instructed to settle the particulars of claim urgently.

The following month, Mr Berry did the same on another matter.

The SRA said he breached multiple principles, including acting with honesty and integrity.

As Slater & Gordon is an alternative business structure, Mr Berry was made subject to a disqualification order under section 99 of the Legal Services Act 2007, which prevents him from working in a licensed body.

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