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Solicitor unable to cope struck off for backdating letters “to buy time”

Heavy workload: blamed for dishonest misconduct

A young personal injury solicitor who dishonestly backdated 23 documents to conceal inactivity as she supposedly struggled to keep on top of her workload, has been struck off.

The solicitor also made false statements to the parent of a vulnerable client concerning the progress of litigation.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal approved an agreed outcome between Amanda Elizabeth Davies and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Ms Davies, who was born in 1986 and qualified in 2012, worked as an assistant solicitor at JCP Solicitors, previously John Collins & Partners, in Swansea.

She admitted to dishonestly creating the backdated letters on clinical negligence and personal injury matters relating to nine separate clients and inserting them in files. All but one of the letters was between July and September 2016.

Ms Davies did not claim there were exceptional circumstances so the tribunal could consider a lesser sentence than striking off. However, she made several claims in mitigation that were not agreed with the SRA.

As well as her grandfather’s illness and death from lung cancer, these included the claim that she had been asked to take on serious injury cases beyond her expertise, without extra training or support from her firm.

She said her workload was excessive and that her misconduct had been “to buy her time”  and “an effort to give myself some breathing space”.

In a letter to the SRA, Ms Davies said: “I amended letters to show my supervisors that I was in control of my files and they were progressing appropriately.

“I did not send any of the letters created and always tried to act in the best interests of my clients, it was simply a case that I was no longer able to cope.”

The false statements made concerning litigation related to a part 36 offer of £120,000 the solicitor was instructed to make to insurers to settle a road traffic accident case, but did not.

She claimed in an email to the mother of her client, who was assisting with the case, that she was waiting to hear from the insurer.

When handling of the case was subsequently taken over by the head of the catastrophic injury team, it eventually settled for £65,000.

Ms Davies agreed to pay £2,500 costs.