Ex-Irwin Mitchell paralegal banned after destroying paperwork to cover up mistake

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By CJ McKinney on

The client’s personal injury case was struck out as a result

A former paralegal at a leading personal injury firm has been barred from the profession after destroying a court document to try to cover up a missed deadline.

Nicholas Martindale, then at Irwin Mitchell, had failed to pay a court fee on time, leading to the client’s case being struck out.

He’s now agreed a settlement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that means he can’t be employed by any solicitor in future without permission from the regulator.

Martindale started work for Irwin Mitchell in March 2017 and had two and a half years’ experience paralegalling in the personal injury team at the time of the incident.

A hearing in one of his cases was listed for 29 October 2019. A trial fee needed to be paid by 1 October.

But Martindale seems to have missed the Notice of Trial that would have alerted him to the need to pay the fee. He only realised that it was in the file a week after the fee was due.

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Instead of coming clean straight away, Martindale tried to retrieve the situation. He destroyed the Notice of Trial and told the other side and the court that he had never received it, going so far as to lodge an application to that effect with a signed statement of truth.

But the court had already struck the case out for non-payment of the fee. A few days later, Martindale ‘fessed up and resigned.

He’s now agreed to a section 43 order, which prevents him from working in a law firm without permission from the SRA. Publishing the settlement agreement, the regulator said that “Mr Martindale’s conduct makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest”.

Irwin Mitchell confirmed the SRA took no action against it and all matters were resolved with the affected client.

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