There was something familiar about Tomlizabeth Bnedin.
A solicitor has been struck off after she replied to a client's complaint about her by pretending to be the firm's compliance officer.
Elizabeth Nedin was a solicitor at Donoghues Solicitors in Llanelli, Wales at the time of the incident.
Nedin was instructed by 'Person A' in relation to a probate matter. The client sent an email headed "Letter of complaint" to the firm's compliance officer concerning Nedin's handling of the matter. However, Nedin was able to intercept the message, as staff at the firm could access other people's emails on a central computer, and responded using the compliance officer's email address.
Nedin acknowledged the client's email within an hour from the firm's general email address. The solicitor then sent another email two weeks later, from the compliance officer's email address, stating that the firm would review the file and send a response.
After another 10 days, Nedin sent a further email from the compliance officer's address, saying: "Apologies that you have not received a response as the file has indeed been reviewed."
Nedin did not tell the compliance officer about the emails. She was busted when the secretary for the compliance officer discovered the email of complaint in a deleted folder in the central computer.
The firm suspended Nedin and then fired her.
Nedin admitted to the SRA that she had hidden the complaint from the compliance officer "knowing that this was of course the worst thing I could have done.”
"I knew that I had been unjustifiably slow in dealing with the file and the complaint was likely going to be a summing-up of how poor the quality of my work was and I would be confronted, in black and white, with the truth that I was trying my best to ignore," said Nedin.
“Every day, I hoped that I would have the strength or courage to deal with it the next day and speak to [the compliance officer] but I did not," she added.
The tribunal ruled that Nedin was “motivated by self-preservation and the reputation of the firm”.
The SDT said that her initial acknowledgment of the email "may well have been spontaneous and a panicked reaction" but "her subsequent misconduct in perpetuating the concealment represented a series of repeated dishonest steps planned over a period of 23 days which served to hide the true position.”
The tribunal said that while Nedin was of good character, had co-operated with the investigation and showed genuine insight, her misconduct was nevertheless aggravated by the fact it was dishonest, calculated, repeated and deliberate.
The tribunal ordered that Nedin be struck off and pay costs of £11,400.