Slater and Gordon solicitor strung along personal injury client for 16 years with false case updates

A solicitor who made a series of false and misleading statements about the progress of a case for 16 years has been struck off the roll.

Nicholas Giles Collins, who practised with Russell Jones & Walker and then Slater and Gordon, resigned in 2021 after his firm brought disciplinary proceedings against him.

Collins had been instructed in 2004 on a personal injury claim against the client’s former employer, the Inland Revenue (now HMRC). He told her that instructed counsel had initially valued her claim at £245,000 and that she had been awarded £360,000 following an arbitration. He told the client that he had begun enforcement proceedings against HMRC following an unsuccessful appeal.

All the while he created and provided documents to substantiate these misleading statements, including submissions to counsel and notes of court hearings.

In fact, Collins never made any contact with HMRC, she had never been awarded any damages and he had never sought enforcement of them. He had not instructed counsel, there had never been any court hearings and he had taken no substantive steps to progress the claim.

The false narrative was uncovered when the client contacted her MP and he was told after making enquiries that HMRC had no record or evidence of the claim being made.

She then told the Solicitors Regulation Authority that there was no independent evidence that her solicitor had even filed a compensation claim and that she believed he was dishonest and had committed fraud.

Collins admitted to his firm that he had misled the client for a long time and an internal investigation found he went to great lengths to conceal what was happening by closing the claim down on case management systems so it would not be listed as active.

The firm stopped acting for the client in 2023 and she has not pursued a civil claim against HMRC.

In her witness statement, she described her relief at being informed the arbitration had resulted in her being awarded a six-figure sum.

‘This now meant I had some financial security for my future,’ she added. ‘From this award I would be able to pay voluntary national insurance contributions to increase my state pension.’ She added that it also contributed to her husband taking early retirement in 2013 based on the money that was about to come in.

Collins submitted in mitigation that he had co-operated with the SRA investigation and made extensive admissions to his firm. He also had a clean disciplinary record since being admitted in 1995. No argument was advanced against a strike-off. He was also ordered to pay £6,300 costs.

Source: Law Soc Gazette