A solicitor who failed to tell a new employer that her previous firm had dismissed her for allegedly fabricating attendance notes has been rebuked by her regulator.
Michaela Hills accepted the rebuke from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) under a regulatory settlement agreement that means she will not face a disciplinary tribunal.
Admitted in 2005, Ms Hills was employed at Robinsons Solicitors in Canterbury until she was dismissed in August 2017 due to an allegation by the firm to the effect that she had fabricated telephone attendance notes.
This alleged misconduct was not itself subject to the SRA’s case.
Ms Hills was subsequently employed as a solicitor by asb aspire, a firm that specialises in catastrophic head and brain injuries.
The SRA said that she disclosed the fact that she had been dismissed by Robinsons, but not why. Ms Hills admitted that, in so doing, she breached principle 6 of the SRA Principles, namely behaving “in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services”.
In addition to accepting the rebuke, Ms Hills agreed to pay costs of £3,450.
Meanwhile, in another regulatory settlement agreement, a former business development manager at home counties firm Spratt Endicott has accepted a rebuke for sending emails to her personal email account containing confidential client and business information, ahead of moving to a new firm.
She then forwarded some of the emails to herself at her new employer.
Spratt Endicott became aware of what had happened soon after and contacted Ms Wells and her new employer about it.
The agreement recorded: “Ms Wells’ new employer arranged for the deletion of all the emails from its systems and from Ms Wells’ home computer, server and all backup systems and cloud storage.
“The matter was reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO decided not to pursue the matter further. In their letter of 4 June 2018, they confirmed that, ‘the remedial action taken by Spratt Endicott is sufficient and that minimal detriment has been caused’.”
Ms Wells admitted that she acted in breach of principle 6, as well as relevant data protection legislation.
The SRA said the rebuke “signifies the risk to the confidentiality of client information that arose from Ms Wells’ actions whilst reflecting that, on this occasion, her conduct did not cause significant harm”.
She also paid costs of £300.