Litigation executive banned after backdating witness statement

SRA: Rebuke proportionate

A paralegal has been banned from working in the profession after she backdated a witness statement having missed the deadline to serve it.

Nicole Mason, who was a personal injury litigation executive at Lincoln Watts & Leeding in London for two years to June 2018, was also rebuked by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

An SRA notice said she was instructed on a road traffic case and the parties agreed that witness evidence be disclosed by 8 May 2018.

Ms Mason missed this deadline, but did not tell her supervising solicitor or apply to the court for relief from sanction.

She received the statement from her client on 23 May, and changed the date on it to 23 April. She then filed the re-dated statement with the court. Ms Mason also deleted the client’s email to her which had attached the statement.

However, the defendant’s lawyers noticed the change and the claim was dismissed, as there was no evidence as to why the witness statement was served out of time. The client was ordered to pay the defendant’s counterclaim, interest and costs, which Lincoln Watts & Leeding covered.

Ms Mason’s employment with the firm was then terminated and she admitted her dishonesty to the SRA.

She has been made subject to a section 43 order, which bans her from working in an SRA-regulated business without its permission.

The SRA said: “Ms Mason’s conduct makes it undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest and had the potential to mislead the court and others.

“It is important for the administration of justice that the court and others are able to rely on the statements and actions of those employed in the legal profession.”

In deciding that a rebuke was proportionate, the notice said, the SRA took into account that Ms Mason “made prompt admissions when her conduct was discovered”, the firm has ensured that the client did not suffer any financial detriment, and Ms Mason “was experiencing difficult personal circumstances at the relevant time”.

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