A law firm partner who misled his client’s litigation friend for more than two years about the progress of a case has agreed he should be struck off the roll.
Gary Robert Williams, a solicitor for 21 years, told the litigation friend that a pre-action protocol letter had been sent when he knew this not to be true.
Williams, who practised with Bedfordshire firm Osborne Morris and Morgan, admitted that he had failed to take adequate steps on the clinical negligence claim for five years.
Instructed on the case in 2011, he met the litigation friend – the claimant’s mother – in December 2016 and said he would write the pre-action letter in the new year. However, he failed to write the letter until May 2019.
During the intervening period he delayed progressing the case and either misled the litigation friend or failed to return her calls. Williams reported his conduct to the firm at a meeting with the senior partner and the Solicitors Regulation Authority was contacted.
Williams agreed with the regulator that he had acted dishonestly and should be struck off. In non-agreed mitigation, he said he had been suffering from stress and depression and was finding it difficult to manage his caseload. Williams also reported being unable to cope with the emotional demands of the work representing families of deceased or severely injured clients.
He accepted letting down his client and said he was ashamed of not progressing the matter more quickly.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal rubber-stamped the agreed outcome, adding: ‘Mr Williams had knowingly and deliberately misled his client’s litigation friend for a significant period of time.’ He agreed to pay £5,175 costs.