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Legal executive banned for purporting to witness signatures

Signatures: Solicitor did not witness clients signing

An experienced chartered legal executive who purported to have witnessed her clients’ signatures on a property transfer form has been banned from working in law firms.

Under the terms of the order by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), Julie Goodman can only take a role in a business it regulates with its permission.

Ms Goodman, who qualified in 1997, was a legal executive property manager at Kidderminster firm Thursfields Legal.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the SRA, she was acting for two clients on the sale of their property who signed the transfer document without a witness.

The sale completed on 31 October 2019, when Ms Goodman was absent from the office.

She subsequently noticed what had happened, signed as a witness and filed the transfer document with the Land Registry.

It came to light soon after and Ms Goodman told the firm and her clients. The firm withdrew the application to the Land Registry, while the lawyer resigned.

In March 2020, both clients signed a fresh transfer document and the registration was completed in June.

Ms Goodman admitted to the SRA that her conduct had been dishonest. In making the order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, the regulator said it took into account her mitigation this was “an isolated incident”, that “she exercised poor judgment for which she has expressed regret and has shown insight into her conduct”, and co-operated with the SRA in its investigation.

“Mrs Goodman’s conduct makes it undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest and had the potential to mislead others,” the SRA concluded.