‘Altered’ letter to show CILEx assessment success
A legal assistant who lied abut passing his legal executive exams has been barred from working in the solicitors’ profession.
In February of this year, Benjamin Lewis Clark supplied his then-employer, Bridge McFarland LLP in Lincolnshire, with a letter from CILEx confirming that he had successfully completed his assessments.
This followed an agreement between Clark and his bosses which would see the firm reimburse the cost of his course fees if he passed his exams. Relying on the letter, the firm paid him £1,275.25.
But Clark later admitted he had “altered the letter” in a bid to “induce the firm to reimburse him” and had in fact failed his exams, according to a regulatory decision published this week by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
His admission came after the firm contacted CILEx to discuss the next stage of his studies. “CILEx advised the firm that Mr Clark had failed his exams”, the decision states, and “provided the firm a copy of its letter of 27 February 2020 to Mr Clark, which confirmed he had failed his exams.”
In mitigation, Clark said he was in debt at the time of the misconduct and struggling to keep up with the repayments he needed to make under a debt management plan. He expressed regret and remorse for his actions.
Bridge McFarland confirmed Clark was “held in high regard” prior to the incident.
The SRA said his conduct made it “undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because it demonstrates he has a propensity to mislead his employers and alter documents to induce them to make payments to him”.
Clark, who worked in the firm’s commercial department between October 2015 and March 2020, was made the subject of a section 43 order, which prevents him from working in a law firm without prior permission from the regulator. He agreed to pay costs of £300.