Decision - Agreement
Outcome: Regulatory settlement agreement
Outcome date: 26 October 2020
Published date: 30 November 2020
Firm or organisation at time of matters giving rise to outcome
Name: Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP
Address(es): Eversheds House, 70 Bridgewater Street, Manchester, Lancashire, M1 5E5
Firm ID: 383183
This outcome was reached by SRA decision.
1. Agreed outcome
1.1 Geraint David Lewis a former employee of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP (the Firm), agrees to the following outcome to the investigation of his conduct by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA):
- to the SRA making an order under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974 (a section 43 order) in relation to him that, from the date of this agreement:
- no solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with his practice as a solicitor
- no employee of a solicitor shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the solicitor's practice
- no recognised body shall employ or remunerate him
- no manager or employee of a recognised body shall employ or remunerate him in connection with the business of that body
- no recognised body or manager or employee of such a body shall permit him to be a manager of the body
- no recognised body or manager or employee of such body shall permit him to have an interest in the body
except in accordance with the SRA's prior permission
- to the publication of this agreement
- he will pay the costs of the investigation of £300.
2. Summary of fact
2.1 Between 5 June 2017 and 31 January 2020 Mr Lewis was employed by the Firm as a legal assistant in its real estate team.
2.2 Mr Lewis is a graduate member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and he was applying to become a fellow of CILEx.
2.3 To support his application, Mr Lewis had provided CILEx with a portfolio showing the work that he had done while he was employed by the Firm.
2.4 On 10 January 2020 Mr Lewis informed the Firm that he had been offered another job and it was agreed that he would leave the Firm on 31 January 2020.
2.5 On 27 January 2020 Mr Lewis received an email from CILEx asking him to provide further information to support his application.
2.6 Between 27 January 2020 and 29 January 2020, Mr Lewis prepared the further information that CILEx had asked for.
2.7 Mr Lewis needed his manager to sign a number of documents in the portfolio evidencing the work that he had done to CILEx. Rather than getting his manager to sign the documents, he fabricated his signature and attempted to send these documents to CILEx in the post on 29 January 2020.
2.8 On the same day, Mr Lewis’ manager identified that he had put the portfolio with the fabricated signatures in the Firm’s post tray to be sent to CILEx.
2.9 Mr Lewis left the Firm on 31 January 2020 and is currently not working.
3.1 Mr Lewis admits and the SRA accepts that:
- he fabricated his manager’s signature on documents he attempted to send to CILEx, and
- his conduct was dishonest.
4. Why a section 43 order is appropriate
4.1 The SRA’s Enforcement Strategy and its guidance on how it regulates non-authorised persons, sets out its approach to using section 43 orders to control where a non-authorised person can work.
4.2 When considering whether a section 43 order is appropriate in this matter, the SRA has taken into account the admissions made by Mr Lewis and the following mitigation which he has put forward:
- he fully admitted his conduct to the Firm and to the SRA, and
- he has expressed remorse for what he has done.
4.3 The SRA and Mr Lewis agree that a section 43 order is appropriate because:
- Mr Lewis is not a solicitor
- his employment or remuneration at the Firm means that he was involved in a legal practice
- by fabricating his manager’s signature on his portfolio of work to be sent to CILEx, Mr Lewis has occasioned or been party to an act or default in relation to a legal practice.
4.4 Mr Lewis’ conduct makes it undesirable for him to be involved in a legal practice because it was dishonest and sought to mislead CILEx as to who had authorised his portfolio of work.
5.1 The SRA considers it appropriate that this agreement is published in the interests of transparency in the regulatory process. Mr Lewis agrees to the publication of this agreement.
6. Acting in a way which is inconsistent with this agreement
6.1 Mr Lewis agrees that he will not deny the admissions made in this agreement or act in any way which is inconsistent with it.
7.1 Mr Lewis agrees to pay the costs of the SRA's investigation in the sum of £300. Such costs are due within 28 days of a statement of costs due being issued by the SRA.