Paralegal banned after forging email to court

SRA: Settlement agreement

A paralegal who misled the court into thinking that a court fee had been paid so as to reverse a decision to strike out a case has been banned from working in the profession.

Sana Patel forged an email to make it look like the fee had been paid.

She accepted an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 – which means she cannot work again in the profession without the approval of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) – in a regulatory settlement agreement that means she will not go before a disciplinary tribunal.

Ms Patel was a paralegal in the litigation department of Leeds firm Lowell Solicitors for just over six months last year. The firm is an alternative business structure that spun out of consumer credit management business Lowell Group in 2015.

She was dealing with a debt recovery matter but forgot to pay the court fee by 17 July, meaning the claim was struck out.

Ms Patel provided the court with an email dated 9 July detailing payment of the court fee on another case, which she altered to look like it was on the later case.

The court accepted that the fee had been paid and reinstated the claim.

Lowell Solicitors subsequently identified that it had not been and Ms Patel admitted what she had done.

The firm applied to the court in October 2019, explaining what happened and asked that the matter be struck out, which it was. It also dismissed Ms Patel and referred her conduct to the SRA.

Ms Patel admitted her conduct was dishonest, and “expressed regret and remorse to the SRA for her actions”.

The SRA said in the agreement: “Ms Patel’s conduct makes it undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice because it demonstrates that she has a propensity to mislead others. Her conduct demonstrates that, were Ms Patel to be involved in legal practice again, she could not be trusted to act honestly in the delivery of legal services.”

She also agreed to pay the SRA costs of £300.

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