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Ban for trainee solicitor who altered emails in attempt to ‘keep up with work’

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Actions undermine public trust in profession, says regulator

A trainee solicitor who altered the date and time on two emails in an attempt to show cases were progressing has been banned from working in the legal profession.

Daniel Hall, a former rookie at Liverpool outfit Bermans, was asked to manage a number of conveyancing matters on behalf of a colleague while she was on annual leave in the summer of 2019, including six cases for the same client.

In a settlement agreement published this week, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that the trainee did not undertake all the work required and subsequently misled a colleague over the progress of the cases.

Hall is said to have created two emails with the dates and times removed in an apparent attempt to obscure when they were sent. However, when the colleague queried the emails, the trainee maintained they had been sent as requested and produced the same two emails but with altered dates and times.

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The colleague subsequently checked with the firm’s IT department who confirmed the dates and times were incorrect.

A meeting was called at which Hall admitted to amending the emails. He was handed a warning and the firm reported him to the SRA.

In mitigation, Hall said his personal circumstances at the time were causing him a “significant amount of worry and distraction”. He “felt under pressure from his workload” and that his actions were a result of him “trying to keep up with his work”.

But the SRA said his conduct “makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because he has admitted he was dishonest”. It added that his behaviour “caused the client to be misled on the progress of their instructions” and “undermines the public’s trust in the provision of legal services and the solicitors’ profession”.

Hall was handed a section 43 order by the SRA, which prevents him from working in a law firm without prior permission from the regulator. He also agreed to pay costs of £300.

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