A fee-earner who failed to manage a vulnerable client’s affairs properly – using her own money to cover her errors – and the partner who supervised her have both been sanctioned.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has made Nicola Jayne Girardier subject to an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, banning the non-solicitor from working in the profession without its permission.
Mary Rodak, formerly a partner at Rochdale firm Jackson Brierley Hudson Stoney inc A H Sutcliffe & Co, has been rebuked.
According to notices published by the regulator last week, Ms Girardier worked for the firm for nearly 18 years until late 2021.
She was responsible for the day-to-day running of files for clients with a deputy, supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian. She resigned “after it was discovered that there had been issues with her management of a client’s file for a period of approximately 12 months”.
The SRA explained: “The client’s benefit claims had not been properly progressed and she had accrued rent arrears. Ms Girardier had used her own funds to subsidise the client’s personal allowance for a period of several months once the client’s own balance had been depleted.”
The section 43 order was appropriate “because of the serious nature of her conduct”, including not bringing the issues to her supervisor’s attention.
Ms Rodak was rebuked for failing to properly supervise Ms Girardier. This could have caused “significant harm” to the client, the SRA said.
“She is an experienced solicitor with direct responsibility for the conduct and with full control over her behaviour.
“A public sanction is required to maintain standards and to acknowledge there has been a breach of regulatory requirements.”
Ms Girardier was also ordered to pay the SRA’s costs of £600.