Cain not able, rules BSB.

A former RPC partner who forged a court document to fool her client has been disbarred.

Nicola Cain, who was a senior barrister with the BBC before moving to RPC's highly regarded media practice in 2017, admitted fabricating a court order while defending Christopher Steele after he was sued for naming a Russian businessman in his infamous ‘Trump dossier'.

Cain added a fake signature from Senior Master Fontaine in her forged order, which she used to mislead Steele and prevent him from finding out that she had failed to comply with routine disclosure obligations, and that the claimant had applied to strike out Steele's defence as a result. 

When a hearing was arranged to sort out the mess, Cain also altered the description of a court order requiring Steele to pay the claimant's £9,000 costs, so that the sum appeared to relate to an extra witness statement instead.

Cain admitted five charges of professional misconduct, which included misleading Steele on another occasion by requesting "urgent instructions" from him for a hearing which had actually taken place the day before.

Cain was pulled from the case once her actions came to light, putting RPC in the position of having to testify that its own lawyer had “actively, seriously and repeatedly misled" its client, and she later left the firm.

During the Bar Standards Board's deliberations, RPC sent the panel a letter rebutting claims about the firm made by Cain's counsel in mitigation. 

The BSB chose not to consider the letter, but still found Cain guilty of multiple instances of "serious" and "significant" dishonesty "at the highest level".

Cain's flurry of lies and cover-ups occurred over a matter of days, but her conduct "was not fleeting or momentary", said the BSB in its findings, and her defence that she was in a "difficult working environment" and had mental health issues that meant she was prone to "catastrophising" did not justify her dishonesty.

Cain told RollOnFriday, "As the Tribunal recognised, I self-reported my misconduct and have apologised for it. My behaviour, which took place more than 2 years ago, is not representative of my personal or professional conduct or the dedication with which I represented clients throughout my career". 

The former partner accused RPC of having "deprived me of the resource necessary to do my job" and of fostering a "toxic" office environment which "led to my suffering psychiatric injury". She also accused the firm of an "improper attempt to influence the Tribunal".

"I am grateful to those clients, colleagues, peers, friends and family who have supported me throughout this period. I am pleased to have recovered and would now hope to be able to put this difficult experience behind me", added Cain.

James Miller, Managing Partner of RPC, told RollOnFriday, "We fully respect the decision of the Bar Standards Board and the clear reasoning outlined in its published findings".

He added, "We won't be commenting on the specifics of this case or on new allegations made against the firm, save to say that the picture painted is not one that we recognise. Those who know RPC well know us for the supportive and collaborative culture of the firm as much as the quality of the work. As part of that, we offer a range of health and wellbeing programmes for people at all levels of seniority. We will continue to invest in supporting our people through those programmes and more".

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 11 February 22 09:31

Baffling how people think they can get away with things like faking a court order.

minimum 11 February 22 09:33

*Newsflash* paying lip service to mental health and wellbeing with a few fluffy emails or seminars once a year doesn't absolve a firm from their continuing obligation to look after their staff. Situations like this reflect worse on the supervising firm than the lawyer involved. Do better.

A crust of bread 11 February 22 10:50

Isn't a crminal offence of perverting the course of justice satisfied here? Am I right?

Anonymous 11 February 22 11:28

"Situations like this reflect worse on the supervising firm than the lawyer involved. Do better."

Oh yeah... RPC totally look like the baddies here.


It's totally their fault that this very senior practitioner doubled down on her own negligence and decided that forgery was the best way to deal with the situation.

I think it's a disgrace that they didn't pre-emptively hire a full time nanny to sit next to her and say soothing things in her ear 24 hours a day to keep her on the straight and narrow. That's what most good firms do for their partners, who can barely be expected to do arduous things like not screwing up routine disclosure procedures.

Meh 11 February 22 11:37

@A crust of bread 11 February 22 10:50

Hard to say, without more facts. It sounds like fraud, if nothing else.

@Anon 11 February 22 11:21

Thanks for the insightful comment.

Zero Sympathy 11 February 22 15:35

How is this even a debate? She is clearly unfit to practice and should be struck-off.

Also, good luck painting RPC as a brutal, uncompromising place to work.

Pretty sure the most psychiatrically damaging thing that happens at RPC is the drinks trolley coming around 5 minutes late or all the birthday cake being gone before you can get to the kitchen.

Lord Lester 11 February 22 16:04

I think that she has been dealt a particularly cruel hand here.

I suspect that in time, with greater understanding of her case and with a more advanced understanding of the pressure that she was under at the time, she will be cleared of all wrongdoing by the BSB.

Anonymous 11 February 22 17:08

I see that the “mental health issues” card continues to be deployed as the get out of jail for all and every fuck up. As someone with serious, diagnosed mental health issues (complex PTSD and a history of self harm), this fucks me right off. 

Anonymous 11 February 22 20:05

@16:04 - well you of all people would know.

Yours was a tragically mishandled case, but you were cleared of all wrongdoing in the end.



History will judge you more kindly than your peers.

Dean Fox 20 December 22 15:30

Any further miscarriage of justice would start looking like a statistic, on the balance of probabilities, this is way above the bar to be a coincidence, let's hope it never happens again as they start using the surveillance systems, in the house.


Never yet come across anyone suffering from mental health, that could be so competent in making up evidence on time, concisely and comprehensively. 

Let's hope, RPC preventatives in assisting their staff,  are more consistent with the prognosis. 



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