A paralegal at Irwin Mitchell who falsely claimed to the court and opposing solicitor that he had not received a notice of trial in a bid to prevent his client’s case from being struck out has been banned from the profession.
Nicholas Martindale was made subject to an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which means he cannot work for a law firm without the permission of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
It follows a regulatory settlement agreement struck with the SRA, in which he admitted acting dishonestly.
Mr Martindale worked as a paralegal in Irwin Mitchell’s personal injury team for two and a half years.
He had to pay the court fee for a matter he was dealing with by 1 October 2019 ahead of a hearing on 29 October.
The agreement recorded: “On 8 October 2019 Mr Martindale discussed the case with the defendant’s solicitor, who mentioned the upcoming court hearing. Mr Martindale told the defendant’s solicitor that he had not received the notice of trial.
“After speaking to the defendant’s solicitor, Mr Martindale checked the client file. He realised that the notice of trial had been received and that the fee should have been paid by 1 October 2019.”
Mr Martindale destroyed the notice of trial and then emailed the defendant’s solicitor confirming that he had not received it. The following day, he filed an application with the court, along with a signed statement of truth, stating that he had not received the notice of trial.
But the court told him the next day that the case had been struck out because the fee had not been paid.
On 14 October, Mr Martindale told the firm about his conduct and resigned.
In mitigation, he said it was an isolated incident, he had expressed regret and remorse for his actions, and had cooperated with the SRA in its investigation.
The agreement said: “Mr Martindale’s conduct makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because [his conduct] was dishonest.
“The public, the profession and the court are entitled to rely upon the honesty and integrity of the people that they deal with at solicitors’ firms. Mr Martindale’s actions have undermined the trust in the provision of legal services and the solicitors’ profession.”