Litigator who misled client, firm and court about cases struck off

SDT: Sustained misconduct

A solicitor who lied to her institutional client, her employer and the court to cover up her failure to progress cases has been struck off.

Amanda Marie Lennon accepted before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal that she had been dishonest and should be removed from the roll.

In approving an agreed statement of facts and outcome between Ms Lennon and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the tribunal found that her misconduct was “sustained and not an isolated, one-off moment of poor judgement”.

Ms Lennon qualified in 2010 and worked at Ascent, national firm Irwin Mitchell’s debt collection arm, for five years until she was dismissed for gross misconduct in October 2020.

This was when she confessed to her line manager that she had told a court in January 2020 that an advocate who was booked for a trial had been taken ill and so could not attend, when in fact she had not booked one.

The claim was struck out after Ms Lennon failed to apply for relief from sanctions, as required by an unless order issued when the hearing did not go ahead.

She then reset the review date for the case on the firm’s case management system, meaning it did not come to anyone’s attention. She only admitted what she had done when the file was reallocated to a colleague.

In an email to her line manager, Ms Lennon said: “I’ve buried my head in the sand a bit on this one… I can only apologise and have absolutely no excuse. I get anxiety, there was a lot going on and I made really a really rubbish decision not to just tell all when happened. I totally hold my hands up on this one and have cocked up.”

After her dismissal, Irwin Mitchell reviewed Ms Lennon’s files and found that she had misled the same client, a bank, about the progress of other litigation cases over a period of around three years.

In those cases, she told the client that judgment had been obtained in their favour when in fact the cases had not progressed or been struck out due to non-payment of the hearing fee.

In two cases, she fabricated court attendance notes purportedly from the firm’s advocacy provider, LPC, about hearings that did not happen, and also misled the court.

The statement noted in mitigation that Ms Lennon co-operated with the SRA investigation and made admissions to all the allegations from the earliest opportunity; that “her mental health suffered whilst at the firm”; and that she did not intend to practise as a solicitor again anyway.

The SRA said her actions “involved a significant breach of trust that her client placed in her” and that her misconduct was “deliberate, calculated and repeated”.

The tribunal struck her off and ordered her to pay the SRA’s costs of £2,000.

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