Ban for former DWF trainee solicitor who emailed client information to a mate

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By CJ McKinney on

Haley Tansey now can’t work for a law firm without regulator’s say-so

A former DWF trainee solicitor who was sacked for forwarding confidential client information to a friend has now been banned from working for any law firm without the regulator’s permission.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has slapped a section 43 control order on Haley Tansey, who was sacked from DWF in 2017 weeks before she was due to qualify.

The regulator found Tansey in breach of its principles and code of conduct after disclosing “confidential information and personal data to a third party on multiple occasions without the firm’s authority”. She had forwarded internal emails to a friend, a non-practising solicitor, saying that that it was because they “enjoyed discussing law with each other”.

Tansey, 49, is a former banker who left the industry in 2009 amid high-profile allegations of a “culture of sexism” at employer HBOS. She alleged among other things that a drunk colleague forced his way into her hotel room and stripped naked, while others bragged about their sex lives and watched pornography in the office.

Although her £600,000 employment tribunal claim against HBOS was unsuccessful, Tansey credited the experience with starting her down a new career path into law.

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The Yorkshire woman started work experience at DWF in 2013 and became a trainee in 2015. But her new career came to an abrupt end when she was discovered to have sent emails containing confidential information to a friend as well as to her personal email account.

This included “legal advice which was subject to legal professional privilege; Key Client updates compiled by the respondent; a template zero hours contract produced for a client; and papers relating to litigation with third parties whose identity and personal medical information was disclosed”. DWF sacked her for gross misconduct.

Tansey returned to the employment tribunal to allege unfair dismissal by DWF, but lost. In a judgment handed down last year, the tribunal found that the material disclosed was “highly confidential” and that her dismissal fell within the range of reasonable responses by DWF.

The SRA found that Tansey, while not a qualified solicitor at the time, had “occasioned or been a party to an act or default which involved such conduct on her part that in the opinion of the Society it would be undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice”. It has issued her with a written rebuke, a fine of £2,000 and costs of £1,350, as well as the section 43 order.

A section 43 order means that any law firm who wants to employ the person concerned has to apply to the SRA for permission.

A DWF spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the SRA’s decision is consistent with our own findings and that the matter can now be brought to a close”.