News Release

Solicitor struck off for unauthorised signatures

A solicitor from Shrewsbury has been struck off for signing important legal documents on behalf of colleagues.

Katherine Anne Edwards signed two lasting powers of attorney by forging the signatures of her co-workers at Wace Morgan Solicitors LLP while she was still a trainee, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard this week. A power of attorney is a legal document where one person appoints other (known as ‘attorneys’) to make decisions on their behalf.

The certificates which Mrs Edwards signed said that, in the opinion of a solicitor, her clients understood what they were doing when they granted the power of attorney. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) which brought the case to the tribunal, said that as well as forging someone's signature, Mrs Edwards did not have sufficient experience to know that her clients understood what they were doing and they were consequently at risk of exploitation.

Mrs Edwards also failed to mention the incident when applying to the SRA for a practising certificate. New entrants to the profession should be of the highest character and are therefore required to reveal any relevant disciplinary issues to the regulator.

The Authority alleged at the hearing on 26 February that Mrs Edwards had twice been dishonest, first in signing the powers of attorney, and second in failing to disclose these breaches. The SDT found these allegations proven, and as well as striking her from the roll of solicitors, ordered her to pay £2,000 costs.

Mrs Edwards' representatives said that she was a young and inexperienced trainee solicitor at the time of the events giving rise to the allegations who had acted in a moment of madness and now regretted her actions.

Gordon Ramsay, SRA Director of Enforcement, said: "Solicitors hold positions of trust, and the Principles we ask them to abide by state they must act with integrity and maintain that trust that the public puts in them. Those solicitors that fail to uphold these Principles can expect to face severe consequences.

"In this case, Mrs Edwards put vulnerable clients at risk by carrying out acts over which she had no authority. Powers of attorney are important documents and that is why strict safeguards are in place. She ignored those safeguards outing clients at risk."

Mrs Edwards has 21 days from the SDT's publication of its decision to appeal.  

 
Print page to PDF