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Ban for ex-Herbert Smith Freehills paralegal who faked overtime approval

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Claimed extra 260 hours over two-month period

Herbert Smith Freehills’ London office

A former paralegal at City law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has been barred from the legal profession after she was found to have submitted a number of overtime forms with fake approvals on them.

Catherine Margaret Hunt, who worked in the firm’s dispute department between November 2011 and January 2019, submitted nine overtime claim forms for a total of 260 hours over a two-month period in 2018.

HSF launched an investigation after becoming concerned that the overtime claims were unusually high, according to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

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The firm identified the claim forms were signed ‘AL’, the initials of Hunt’s former manager, who subsequently confirmed they had not approved any overtime for Hunt. The paralegal was dismissed for gross misconduct and reported to the SRA.

The SRA made Hunt subject to a section 43 order, which prevents her from working in a law firm without its prior permission. In doing so, the SRA said her “conduct makes it undesirable for her to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest.”

Hunt was ordered to pay the costs of the investigation of £300.

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