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Irwin Mitchell employee faces Section 99 Disqualification: A case of breach and consequence

Irwin Mitchell employee faces Section 99 Disqualification: A case of breach and consequence


Former Irwin Mitchell LLP employee disqualified after impersonating, breaching trust, and unauthorised access conviction

The legal profession, built on principles of integrity and trust, occasionally faces challenges when individuals within the system engage in actions contrary to these values. Irwin Mitchell LLP, a respected legal firm based in Sheffield, recently dealt with a case involving one of its former employees, Ms Clair Hudd. The outcome, reached through agreement, sheds light on the serious consequences of breaching professional standards.

Agreed Outcome: Ms Hudd, a former analyst in the Client Care and Resolution Team, agreed to a disqualification under section 99 of the Legal Services Act 2007. The disqualification encompasses roles such as Head of Legal Practice, Head of Finance and Administration, managerial positions, or any employment within a licensed body.

Summary of Facts: Ms Hudd's employment at Irwin Mitchell LLP began on January 10, 2022. Her role involved investigating client dissatisfaction. However, on March 18, 2023, she faced charges related to unauthorised access, leading to impersonation during a police web-chat. She pleaded guilty, receiving a community order, a fine, victim surcharge, and termination of employment on May 23, 2023.

Admissions: Ms Hudd admitted to breaching public trust and confidence, failing to act with honesty and integrity, as outlined in the SRA Principles. The nature of her conduct and conviction led to the acknowledgment that her engagement in specified activities is undesirable.

Section 99 Disqualification: The agreement concludes that a section 99 disqualification is appropriate. Irwin Mitchell LLP's licensed body status and Ms Hudd's breach of rules deemed this action necessary. Disqualification is considered a proportionate outcome in the public interest to prevent a similar role elsewhere and maintain trust in the legal profession.

Reasons for Disqualification: The conviction's nature and Ms Hudd's public-facing role contributed to the decision. The SRA highlighted concerns about diminished public trust and confidence due to the dishonesty conviction. Mitigation factors, including vulnerability during the offense, out-of-character behaviour, and cooperation, were considered but did not alter the proportionality of disqualification.

Publication and Acknowledgment: The SRA will publish this decision as per the Legal Services Board's rules. Ms Hudd is bound not to deny the admissions made in the agreement or act inconsistently with it.

Conclusion: Irwin Mitchell LLP's handling of Ms Hudd's case serves as a reminder of the legal profession's commitment to upholding ethical standards. The agreement, while acknowledging mitigating factors, underscores the serious consequences for breaches that compromise public trust and professional integrity.

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