Katherine Edwards’ legal career is over after “moment of madness” during her training contract.
A young solicitor has been struck off after forging the signatures of her colleagues at regional law firm Wace Morgan Solicitors.
Katherine Edwards committed the extreme professional no-no four years ago when she was a trainee, falsely signing two power of attorney documents. The documents stated that in the opinion of a qualified solicitor her clients understood what they were doing when they granted the power of attorney.
Edwards, who completed her training contract in 2010, went on to practise as an assistant solicitor at Shropshire-based Wace Morgan before things came crashing down when word of her actions emerged and the firm reported her to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Last month she was hauled in front of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).
At the Tribunal, it was held that Edwards had twice been dishonest — first in signing the powers of attorney, and second in failing to disclose these breaches when applying to the SRA for a practising certificate.
This week the SRA announced that Edwards has been booted out of the profession and ordered to pay her £2,000 hearing costs. The sanction was delivered in spite of a plea by Edwards’ representative that she was a young and inexperienced trainee at the time of the events who had acted in a “moment of madness” and now regretted her actions.
It represents quite a fall for the rookie, whose profile as an example of a successful law graduate remains on the University of Aberystwyth website. Amongst other things, the profile notes Edwards’ education at public school Oswestry and the fact that her mother is a solicitor.
Following the decision, SRA enforcement chief Gordon Ramsay said:
“Solicitors hold positions of trust, and the Principles we ask them to abide by state they must act with integrity and maintain that trust that the public puts in them. Those solicitors that fail to uphold these Principles can expect to face severe consequences.
“In this case, Mrs Edwards put vulnerable clients at risk by carrying out acts over which she had no authority. Powers of attorney are important documents and that is why strict safeguards are in place. She ignored those safeguards outing clients at risk.”
Edwards has 21 days from the SDT’s publication of its decision to appeal.