Solicitor struck off after paying compensation from his own money

A HULL solicitor has been struck off after he paid personal injury compensation to clients with his own money to hide major mistakes he made.

Paul Smith was working at Williamsons Solicitors when the dishonesty occurred, which saw him fabricate documents after failing to issue proceedings correctly and cases had been issued out of time.

He paid one client £2,500 and another £2,250 to settle the matters, with the clients believing it was compensation paid by the defendants in their cases.

There were also two ongoing cases where Mr Smith said he was delaying “so that I could get some money together and pay the client off”.

Mr Smith had joined the firm as a trainee solicitor in 2008 before becoming a paralegal and then a solicitor. In August 2015 he told the firm’s compliance officer he was resigning because he “believed the firm would dismiss him as soon as they found out what he had done”.

He set out the issues on personal injury cases he had worked on, which led to the firm reporting him to the Solicitors Regulation Authority the following month.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has just published its judgement from the hearing last month, which focused on five files Mr Smith had handled.

The tribunal decided “dishonesty had been found proved” and Mr Smith’s conduct had been “deliberate and repeated over a period of time”.

It added: “The Tribunal concluded the respondent had acted very naïvely and his inexperience had been his downfall. He had got himself into difficulties early on in his career and instead of seeking assistance from senior colleagues he had attempted to deal with the problems on his own using his own money.”