Solcitor banned from practice for dishonesty in application

The SDT have banned a solicitor from practice for 18 months following her revelation that she had ‘upgraded’ her 2:2 degree to a 2:1 on her…

60 seconds with Miriam Guilding, Solicitor in our Employment, Pensions and Immigration team

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal have banned a solicitor from practice for 18 months following her revelation that she had ‘upgraded’ her 2:2 degree to a 2:1 on her application form in order to try and secure an interview with the Army Legal Service. In this week’s edition Miriam Guilding, Solicitor in our Employment, Pensions and Immigration team, considers the steps you can take properly to vet the qualifications of potential employees and what you can do if you have been misled by false information on an application form.

Should job offers always be made subject to proof of the necessary qualifications?

Yes, absolutely. Where a job offer is partly based on the level of qualifications someone has I always recommend that employers obtain proof before the individual starts work. Employers should check their vetting procedures and request the proof of qualifications at the same time as they ask for other key pre-employment paperwork such as DBS certificates and documents showing that the individual has the right to work in the UK.

It might go without saying but once the employer has obtained proof of qualifications I recommend double checking this against the information provided on the application form or within the CV.

What should an employer do if a job applicant has misled them on an application form?

I recommend asking the individual to explain the discrepancy in the first instance. Where it is clear that they have been dishonest it will be fairly low risk simply to withdraw the job offer, giving reasons.

If the role is within a law firm it may wish to refer the individual to the Solicitors Regulation Authority at this stage under its obligations under the Code of Conduct (O10.4). However, I recommend a reasonable level of investigation first.

What if an employer only finds out about the dishonesty after the employee has started working for them?

Incorrect information on a CV or job application form indicates that the individual may have deliberately misled the employer. Such dishonesty will be classed as gross misconduct and could therefore allow the employer fairly to dismiss the individual. The individual would not normally be entitled to any notice or pay in lieu of notice if they were found to have committed an act of gross misconduct.

Employers should still follow a fair employment procedure which will include a reasonable investigation and a hearing. This is particularly important if the employee has over 2 years’ continuous service as they will be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim if a fair process is not followed.

If you would like any advice in relation to employment or any other matters, please contact the Compli team on 0345 070 1047.

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