A former claims handler at leading midlands firm Shakespeare Martineau has been banned from working in the profession for falsifying an email sent to opposing solicitors.
Narinder Kaur Rayat, for reasons not explained by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), altered the email to mislead them on an admission of liability.
She has been made subject to an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which means she cannot work for a law firm without the SRA’s permission.
According to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the SRA yesterday, Ms Rayat worked for Shakespeare Martineau for more than three years until September 2019, when she resigned during the disciplinary process.
She was acting for a car rental company to recover losses suffered after one of its cars was damaged in a collision with another vehicle.
The driver of the other vehicle (Mr A) was represented by his insurer and had separately instructed solicitors to make a personal injury claim arising from the collision.
In August 2019, Ms Rayat received an email from Mr A’s insurer, making an offer to settle the claim with no admission of liability, saying: “Liability is still in dispute as per contact with our client’s solicitors… who are pursuing a claim for personal injury”.
A fortnight later, she called Mr A’s PI solicitors and said Mr A’s insurer had accepted liability for the accident. The solicitors asked her to provide a copy of the email confirming this; she did this after altering the email so that it read “liability is not in dispute”.
Mr A’s solicitors realised that the email had been altered and reported Ms Rayat’s conduct to the firm.
Ms Rayat admitted that her conduct was dishonest. She expressed regret and remorse for her actions.
The SRA: “Ms Rayat’s conduct makes it undesirable for her to be involved in legal practice because it was dishonest.
“The public, the profession and others are entitled to rely upon the honesty and integrity of the people that they deal with at solicitors’ firms. Miss Rayat’s actions have undermined trust in the provision of legal services and the solicitors’ profession.”