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Solicitor who lied to new employer struck off

SDT: Protection of public and reputation of the profession

A solicitor who lied when she told her new employer that she was not under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has been struck off.

Catherine Jane Limbert (also known as Williamson) also admitted failing to obtain proof of identity documents and held client monies in an unregulated business she owned.

Approving a regulatory settlement agreement, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal found that “the protection of the public and the protection of the reputation of the profession demanded” that she be struck off.

Ms Limbert, born in 1967, qualified in 1995 and between March 2016 and May 2017 worked under a consultancy agreement at Brighton-based Cognitive Law specialising in family law and probate.

When she joined, she had to fill in a new employee questionnaire for the firm’s indemnity insurer, in which she said she had not been under investigation by the SRA. In fact, she was under investigation at the time and entered into a regulatory settlement agreement in June 2016.

Meanwhile, file reviews revealed that Ms Limbert had either failed to request or requested, but failed to obtain, proof of identity in relation to five clients.

She also caused five clients to pay £3,410 on account of costs and/or disbursements to Arbour Legal, an unregulated firm she owned, and did not use the money to pay those costs and disbursements. It was only paid to the firm after she left, and at least £456 remains unaccounted for.

In mitigation, which was not agreed by the SRA, Ms Limbert said that, at the time she committed the misconduct, she was suffering from serious ill-health “adversely impacting day-to-day function including ordinary decision making, and was overworked”.

She also claimed to have encountered difficulties with the handover of files from the firm where she had previously been a partner prior.

Though Ms Limbert said she had shown insight into and remorse over her misconduct, she did not contend that her mitigation amounted to exceptional circumstances which would justify the tribunal in making any order other than that she be struck off.