Solicitors duped by fraudulent client ordered to pay costs
The solicitors' information service, Practical Law, has reported on a County Court case which gives a stark reminder to solicitors of their duty to carry out proper checks on their clients at the outset of a matter.
A fraudster posing as a victim of personal injury, duped a firm of solicitors into acting for him, to bring an entirely fraudulent claim. The fraudulent claim was defended by an insurance company, and the firm of solicitors were held jointly and severally liable with the fraudster, to pay all of the insurance company's legal costs.
The fraudster was the owner of a claims management company, which brought a claim on behalf of a genuinely injured person, without any authority to do so. In this extraordinary case, the director of the claims management company even went so far as to forge signatures.
The fraudster's solicitors had failed to carry out the most rudimentary checks on their client and had tried to cover up errors they had made with court rules, by dating letters wrongly.
The judge said the solicitors were appalling, and punished them by making them jointly liable for the defendant insurance company's costs.
Jan Samuel, senior partner at Samels Solicitors, has dealt with cases of solicitor's negligence and professional misconduct for many decades. Jan said: "As a professional negligence specialist, I do see many cases where solicitors' work has fallen below a reasonable standard, but the subject matter of this case is particularly shocking. There is no doubt that the solicitors acting for a fraudulent client were rightly held responsible for the insurance company's costs."
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