Following an investigation by Allianz and BLM, a litigation solicitor has been struck off after being exposed for falsifying signatures.
On exchanging witness evidence during a personal injury case in 2016
, BLM questioned whether a signature on the Claimant’s witness statement was genuine. At Allianz’s request, the statement was sent for detailed forensic analysis which concluded that the signature had been forged by using a photocopy of the Claimant’s signature lifted from a court document.
Liability was disputed in full and the Allianz fraud investigation team joined forces with insurance and risk law specialist BLM, to challenge the inconsistencies in the Claimant’s evidence.
As soon as the detailed forensics report came backBLM immediately referred the case to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
In 2016 the trial judge ordered the claimant’s solicitors to pay all of the defendant’s costs in the sum of £27,000.
Solicitor for the Claimant, Lesley Layton, 36, working for Lance Mason Solicitors, based in Blackburn, admitted to the SRA last month that she had acted dishonestly and had instructed a colleague to copy signatures. The tribunal heard that Layton wanted to avoid the consequences of failing to ensure the statements were exchanged in time.
The SRA concluded that Layton’s dishonesty was of such gravity that it would undermine public confidence in the profession and she was struck off the roll and ordered to pay back costs of £13,920.
Allianz’s fraud manager, Nick Kelsall said:
“Not only has Lesley had to incur the financial repercussions for committing fraud, she now has to face the long term consequences of her actions. Unfortunately this individual abused her position of power and now she is paying the consequences. The result sends a clear message that Allianz will rigorously defend all types of fraud and will use the law to punish fraudsters in order to protect our customers.”
Raymond Southern, fraud partner at insurance and risk law business, BLM commented:
“While for some, forgery may at first appear a simple cut and paste job, this outcome should provide a strong deterrent to anyone considering falsifying papers, and it’s one that was the result of a close partnership between BLM and Allianz. Together we rigorously investigated the case, and it quickly became apparent that this was a dishonest effort to cause a loss to our client. While this is a sad case that highlights the extent, and the severe consequence, for any individual undertaking fraudulent activity, we take no pleasure in having to pursue this matter.
The integrity of the legal profession, however, is paramount to the judicial process and public confidence. ”