UK law firm manager paid herself £1,450 for office tea and coffee!

long-serving office manager who helped herself to firm money for expenses such as tea and coffee has been barred from the profession.

Jacqueline Tunstall had worked for Sunderland firm McKenzie Bell for more than 30 years. She was found to have made seven pre-signed office cheques payable to her personal bank account. The cheques, over four months to January 2023, came to a total of £1,450.

In a settlement agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Tunstall said that she made the cheques payable to herself as a refund for office expenses, such as tea, coffee, milk and sugar, which she had incurred personally.

She did not retain receipts for these expenses and did not inform the directors that she was reimbursing herself.

The firm said it was not expected for employees to incur office expenses personally and the usual process was for them to provide a receipt to Tunstall for the relevant item.

It was also common practice at the Sunderland office for employees to bring in their own refreshments. Even if this was not the case, the SRA said, the size of the office would not warrant such high spending. In the firm’s other office in Washington, petty cash was used to purchase small items – with the record of such withdrawals sent to Tunstall.