"I've been made up to director. Yeah... that's right, made up."

A solicitor has been struck off for offering a non-existent training contract to a friend, and lying about being a director at his firm.

Andrew Cutland joined Somerset firm, Bartlett Gooding & Weelan Solicitors (BGW), in 2019, as an assistant solicitor.  A woman, referred to as 'Person A', had known Cutland for a number of years, and the pair had worked together at Co-op Legal Services. Person A had considered Cutland to be a "long standing and close friend". 

Person A was in the process of qualifying as a legal executive, and told Cutland that she was unhappy in her current job. In 2020, Cutland falsely claimed to Person A that he was being promoted to become a director/partner at the firm, and offered her a trainee solicitor job, which didn't exist. He said that the firm would pay for her LPC, provide a company car, and also give her a higher salary than other trainees; none of which was true. 

Person A sent her degree and certificates to Cutland to progress the application. Continuing to be economical with the actualitié, Cutland told Person A that he was conducting interviews with other future trainees. Person A said she was excited about the opportunity, and Cutland encouraged her to inform her friends and family about the new job.

However, at a later date, when Person A asked Cutland to confirm when she should hand in her notice in her current job, in order to start at BGW in time, the solicitor became evasive. He told her that the training contract was being postponed by several months, as other trainees had dropped out.

Alarm bells started to ring for Person A when she found out that Cutland was married, as he had never mentioned that he had a wife. She also discovered that he had lied about senior positions he had held at other firms.

Cutland ignored requests from Person A to provide the names of the other trainees in her cohort. Person A got in touch with BGW directly about her training contract, only to be told that there was no position for her. 

Person A made a complaint about Cutland to BGW and the SRA. She said that she felt "humiliated" and "completely duped" by the solicitor, and had told family and friends about the training contract, as well as her current employer, which made her work position "very awkward." 

BGW investigated the matter and dismissed Cutland for gross misconduct in 2021.

The SRA has now brought the matter before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Cutland denied that he had offered a training contract to Person A or that he had held himself out to be a director/partner. He also disputed that he had been dishonest, and said that he had sent "innocent texts of a genuine nature which had been manipulated and changed by Person A to present a different narrative." 

However, the tribunal deemed that Cutland's account about fabricating messages was "inherently highly implausible" while the evidence of Person A was "credible, consistent" and "reliable." 

Dervla Nash, the BGW director who conducted the firm's investigation, told the tribunal that Cutland had "no regard for the effect his actions" on Person A, at a time when she was feeling very low about her work environment. 

Nash believed Cutland could have stopped "the charade and saved Person A much heartache, but he persisted with his web of lies for his own sense of self-gratification".  She added that throughout the firm's disciplinary process, Cutland "denied the claims in a nonchalant manner" and "at no point did he accept any responsibility for his actions nor show any remorse.”

The tribunal found that Cutland had acted dishonestly by holding himself out to be a director and offering the bogus job, when he knew he had no authority to do so. The panel concluded that Cutland's motivation "appeared to be one of self-importance and self aggrandisement". 

On separate matters, the tribunal also found that Cutland had improperly withdrawn some money from a client account at a previous firm, when he was a trainee. And that he had also been dishonest to BGW about his employment history. 

The tribunal struck him off the roll and ordered that he pay £17,489 in costs.


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Weird 17 November 23 08:50

What a weird thing to do. Like, what on earth was the point? What's he going to say to his wife?!

Anonymous 17 November 23 09:20

Sometimes, when I've had a bad day, I put on a bicorn hat and talk to my cat in a French accent. She thinks I'm Napoleon. No-one gets hurt.

Sh!t show 17 November 23 09:37

Some days I think I'm not doing so well, just earning a modest amount at a mid-tier firm, putting bread on the table. And then I see this as I realise some people's lives are an utter bucket of shit full of dynamite.

Globbits 17 November 23 10:13

This really puts in perspective the non-event that happened to the Slaughters and MoFo snowflakes. Being asked whether you are what you are must be so awful.

Anonymous 17 November 23 10:32

@ Poop Show, 09:37 - a high five to you sir or madam.

Yours is the state of Zen required to survive modern life, and I admire you for it.

Anonymous 17 November 23 10:35

To help us understand any of this - is it right for the reader to understand that this geezer did all of this mad stuff, but didn't attempt to sleep with Person A? Or otherwise persuade her to interfere with him?

Because I'm struggling to get the point of the whole charade if that wasn't it.

If it wasn't all a road to a "What are you willing to do to prove your commitment to this role?" then I don't understand why any of it happened at all.

Anonymous 17 November 23 12:28

@10:13 - so gratuitously offensive that I feel sure it must be a clumsy attempt at trolling. Surely nobody sincerely that moronic, or that bigoted, would be a reader here?

Anonymous 18 November 23 19:58

You could not make this stuff up! He told me once hew as good a cricket - was that true?

Anonymous Anonymous 21 November 23 22:27

A solicitor breaking the law. My my! Bad news for the image of the legal profession.

Mr M 23 November 23 22:04

Why would he do this - as in what’s the objective here. Such a strange thing to do.

Anonymous 23 November 23 22:08

@Rat - not sure he was trying to bed her (or would have succeeded had the offer been genuine), he might just have been showing off.

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