- Legal Futures - https://www.legalfutures.co.uk -

Solicitor who lied to clients for four years struck off

Probate: Solicitor failed to obtain grant

A private client solicitor who lied to her clients over a period of almost four years at two different firms has been struck off by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

The SDT said Rhodd Humphreys admitted all the allegations against her, including dishonesty.

“She had made untrue statements to clients and third parties. Her misconduct had continued over a period of four years and had been deliberate. That such conduct was dishonest was plain.”

Approving an agreed outcome between Ms Humphreys and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the SDT heard that matters came to a head when a client and executor of an estate attended Ms Humphreys’ office at GHP Legal in Wrexham on 4 April 2018 to collect a grant of probate.

Ms Humphreys, who was born in 1977 and qualified in 2002, had previously assured the client, ‘BEP’, several times from September 2017 that the grant had been obtained, when it had not.

On this occasion Ms Humphreys told BEP that a member of staff was “walking the document” to the office of a local wealth management firm.

Two days later, on 6 April 2018, GHP Legal held a meeting with BEP and a fellow executor at which they discovered the extent of the “untrue statements” made to clients and third parties.

The following day, Ms Humphreys resigned. The grant of probate was not obtained until 14 May 2018.

The solicitor admitted making a series of false statements to clients and third parties during her time at GHP, where she worked from April 2016 to April 2018.

From December 2012 to April 2016, she was an assistant solicitor at Wirral firm BBH.

The firm reported her to the regulator in December 2017. Ms Humphreys admitted making an untrue statement three years earlier to ‘Miss NM’, a beneficiary, who had been told by the firm in June 2014 that her legacy would be invested in National Savings and Investments (NS&I).

Ms Humphreys told NM in December 2014 that she had “written to NS&I for a statement and will forward this to you when received”, despite the fact the legacy had not been invested and would not be until April 2015.

Ms Humphreys said in mitigation that during her time at BBH she was “struggling with her workload which she had made management aware of” and the “environment at BBH was at times difficult”.

She did not provide any mitigation for her misconduct at GHP, but said had decided to “no longer practice within the law”.

Ms Humphreys accepted that “the protection of the public and the protection of the reputation of the profession” justified the decision to strike her off. She was ordered to pay costs of £2,500.