3 September 2020
Charges of professional misconduct
Olivia Joanne Edwards, whilst an Associate member of CILEx:
- Failed to maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct and justify public trust in herself, her profession and the provision of legal services by engaging in conduct that could undermine or affect adversely the confidence and trust placed in her and her profession by her client, her employer, professional colleagues, the public and others, contrary to Principle 2, Outcome 2.2 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015;
- Failed to behave with honesty and integrity, contrary to Principle 3 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015;
- Failed to act competently in the best interests of her client and respect client confidentiality and failed to maintain confidentiality in respect of her client’s affairs, c ontrary to Principle 5, Outcomes 5.12 of the CILEx Code of Conduct 2015.
in that, between February and March 2017, while employed as a Paralegal/Legal Clerk at Lyndales LLP, Olivia Joanne Edwards:
I. accessed a colleague’s email account without authority;
II. sent a privileged and confidential email chain from her colleague’s email account to her own personal email inbox and deleted this from her colleague’s sent items/outbox;
III. retrieved the email from her personal email account and posted a redacted copy of the email to the judge in proceedings to which the firm’s client was a party; and
IV. recorded privileged and confidential discussions between her colleague, the firm’s client and the client’s barrister, without their knowledge or consent and prepared a transcript of that conversation;
all of which negatively impacted the firm, its client and the other party to the proceedings.
She later breached an undertaking that she gave to Lyndales LLP on 3 May 2017, that she would give her solicitors all disputed and confidential and/or privileged materials belonging to Lyndales and/or its clients in her possession and not make use of any of the disputed material without Lyndales’ written consent.
As a result of the above, the Solicitors Regulation Authority found it undesirable for Ms Edwards to be involved in legal practice and on 23 August 2019 made her the subject of an Order under s.43 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
The CILEx Regulation Disciplinary Tribunal (DT) found the charges of professional misconduct against Ms Edwards proven on the balance of probabilities.
The DT ordered Ms Edward’s immediate exclusion from CILEx membership for a period of 3 years. The DT recommended that Ms Edwards’ membership of CILEx is not reinstated unless she is able to demonstrate, with reference to her misconduct, that she:
- understands the importance of trust, integrity, honesty and confidentiality in the legal profession;
- understands the importance of public confidence in legal professionals and in the provision of legal services generally.