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Legal executive banned for forging client’s signature

Signature: Lawyer wanted to save client the bother of returning to office

A highly experienced chartered legal executive who forged her client’s signature after forgetting to ask the client to sign a consent order has been banned from working for law firms.

Lynn Foy, who worked at Gardner Iliff & Dowding in Cannock, has been made subject to an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which means no law firm can employ her without the consent of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

She was also fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £300.

According to a notice published by the regulator, Ms Foy worked in the family department for four months last year and was acting for a client in ancillary relief proceedings.

She met the client to discuss the contents of a draft consent order. The client agreed to its terms but Ms Foy forgot to ask the client to sign it.

The notice said: “When Ms Foy realised her error, rather than make arrangements for the client to sign the draft order, she signed it herself, purporting to be the client. She sent the order to the court for sealing.

“The court sealed the order and returned it to Ms Foy. When the client saw the order, she raised concerns with the firm about its validity because Ms Foy had signed it.”

The firm investigated and suspended Ms Foy. She admitted her conduct, resigned and agreed to refer her conduct to CILEx Regulation, while the firm referred her to the SRA.

She admitted that she acted without integrity and in a way which would undermine public trust in the provision of legal services, in breach of the SRA principles, and that her conduct was dishonest.

The SRA acknowledged in mitigation that the lawyer made full admissions, that her “actions were intended to avoid any inconvenience to the client by having to reattend the office to sign the draft order” and that she received no financial benefit from her conduct.

“Miss Foy has worked in the legal profession for over 40 years and has a clean regulatory history,” the SRA added.