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Fundraising for former junior solicitor who was struck off after leaving documents on train reaches £10,000

A GoFundMe page set up by a former junior solicitor, who was struck off and barred from the profession after mistakenly leaving a briefcase containing case documents on a train, has reached £10,000 in just 23 days.

Posted on 18 May 2020

Claire Matthews is raising money on her GoFundMe page in relation to her appeal against the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT) decision made in January 2020 to bar her from the profession and order her to pay £10,000 towards the SRA’s costs of bringing the case against her. She is hoping to raise £40,000 in total.

The money raised will be used in case the appeal, to be heard in the High Court, is unsuccessful and she is ordered to pay the SRA’s further costs of defending the appeal. It will also be used to pay any disbursements (like court or experts’ fees) she needs to pay to bring the appeal. Any surplus after meeting any costs will be donated to LawCare, the charity promoting good mental health and wellbeing for the legal profession and their families. If Claire is successful in her case the surplus funds raised will be donated to LawCare.

Claire’s legal team, Gideon Habel and Emma Walker from law firm Leigh Day Mary O’Rourke QC and Rosalind Scott Bell of Deans Court Chambers and Mark Harries QC of Carmelite Chambers, are all working pro bono on Claire’s case.

Claire qualified as a solicitor in 2017 and began working for law firm Capsticks in their Birmingham office in April 2018. On 24 May 2018 she mistakenly left a locked briefcase containing client documents on a train. The mistake caused Claire enormous distress and anxiety. She initially told her colleague she had left the briefcase at home. On 31 May 2018, Claire reported the loss of the documents to her supervising partner at the firm.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) brought regulatory proceedings against Claire on the basis of dishonesty and breaching principles 2 and 6 of the SRA Principles 2011, which relate to acting with integrity and in a way that maintains the public’s trust in the profession. The SDT found in favour of the SRA in relation to some of the allegations and decided to strike Claire off.

Claire has filed her appeal on the grounds that the tribunal failed to investigate and properly weigh up the impact of the incident on her mental health and therefore it erred in its findings in relation to misconduct and dishonesty.

Claire, who now works in an NHS call centre, said:

“I feel overwhelmed by the number of kind messages and the amount of support I have received in respect of my case since it was announced on 22 April that I was appealing the SDT decision. I would like to thank everyone who has donated so far to help me to reach a quarter of my target in such a short space of time. I feel very strongly that it is important that I continue with my appeal, to raise awareness of the impact of mental health within the profession. However, the costs risks I am facing in order to do this will potentially be significant. Therefore, I am extremely grateful that others in the profession, and beyond, have been so kind and generous in supporting me.”

To donate to Claire’s case visit her GoFundMe page.