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Ban for employee who faked power of attorney signatures

By John Hyde

A law firm employee has been barred from working in the legal profession after forging signatures on a lasting power of attorney. Laura Hayley Jackson had omitted to have two clients sign a section of the LPA form and sought to cover the mistake by signing the names herself. The forms were then sent to the Office of the Public Guardian and registered.

According to a regulatory settlement agreement published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the clients, a married couple, spotted the signatures were not theirs on receipt of the LPAs.

They made a complaint to Jackson’s firm, Oldham practice North Ainley Solicitors, which found Jackson had signed the names of the clients. The firm dismissed her for misconduct.

The SRA said Jackson had admitted signing the LPAs and misleading the Office of the Public Guardian, and in doing so failing to act with integrity and in the clients’ best interests.

The regulator ruled that she be banned from working in a regulated firm unless the SRA has granted permission. The settlement agreement states Jackson was working in the Stockport office of national firm Edward Hands & Lewis at the time of publication. The firm has not responded to the Gazette’s request for comment, but there is no suggestion it has acted improperly and the SRA has confirmed it would have been possible to apply for permission to employ Jackson in advance of the agreement being published.

In addition to the banning order, Jackson was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £300 costs.

The SRA has also published a rebuke in relation to solicitor Richard Roy Murrall, of Essex firm Pellys Solicitors Limited. Murrall was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £300 costs after being convicted last July of driving with excess alcohol. The notice said Murrall was ‘extremely remorseful’ about the offence and has taken appropriate measures to address his conduct.

(Courtesy: Law Society Gazette)