Solicitor who submitted false oath agrees to leave profession

Probate: Court relied on sworn oath

A former partner at a Yorkshire law firm who submitted a false statement to the probate court as part of the oath for executors has agreed to leave the profession.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) said Joy Potentier’s misconduct resulted in one of two daughters and executors being appointed sole executor. The other daughter was not advised to take independent legal advice.

In a regulatory settlement agreement, the SRA said Ms Potentier was a partner at Inesons – now part of Rothery Inesons – when the firm was instructed by the estate of ‘YB’.

The regulator said the false statement alleged that Ms D, a named executor of YB’s will and one of her daughters, had received notice of the application for the grant of probate and the reservation of power to her. In fact, Ms D had not received the notice.

“The probate court placed reliance on the statements of the sworn oath, which subsequently resulted in the appointment of Mrs P, one of the other named executors of the will and also a daughter of the deceased, as the sole executor.

“The respondent failed to advise Ms D to obtain independent legal advice to consider the possibility of a claim against the firm, with respect to these events.”

Instead, the SRA said, Ms Potentier continued to act in the administration of YB’s estate between June and August 2015, “in the face of a conflict of interest” or the significant risk of one.

The solicitor admitted preparing an oath for executors containing a statement she knew to be false or misleading.

The SRA said Ms Potentier, who is no longer practising, “did not wish to add anything” by way of mitigation.

The regulator said a fine was the appropriate outcome because the conduct was “serious but not so serious that referral to and sanction by” the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal was necessary or proportionate to maintain professional standards and uphold public confidence.

Ms Potentier agreed with the regulator that, although she had co-operated with the investigation, her conduct was “intentional or at least reckless”.

However, “no loss was actually caused to Ms D who was ultimately satisfied with the firm’s handling of the matter”.

The solicitor was fined £2,000, the maximum fine that can be imposed by the SRA, and agreed to pay £9,250 in costs.

Ms Potentier also agreed to “take all necessary steps to remove her name from the roll of solicitors as soon as reasonably practicable” and that she would “never apply for readmission to the roll of solicitors”.

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