Air Miles

Interesting case being reported on the Law Society Gazette this week:

A former legal secretary has been barred from working in the profession following her dismissal for abuse of her employer’s air miles accounts. 

As Mitch Kowalski and I have pointed out on this thread on LinkedIn, there some interesting aspects to this case, not least of which are:

  • The secretary in question is a secretary. Not to dismiss the role secretaries play, but they are not on a roll, let alone THE roll
  • As far as I am aware, secretaries in law firms do not have a duty to the Court
  • Who owns air miles accrued while undertaking business activities (i.e., where the business is paying for the flights) would seem to be a contractual issue between an employer, its employee and the airline loyalty programme – it could well be the case that the air miles are for the use of the business, but it is equally as likely that the individual accrues the right to use the air miles. In either case, it doesn’t seem to be an issue for the regulator but for the employer – so how did we get here and how did the employer let it get here?
  • As Mitch points out, the secretary in question: “did nothing that impacted the quality of legal work, or that impacted clients.” so while the activity in question is clearly unsavoury, is it professionally reprimandable?
  • I’m interested to see, given the misconduct here is by a secretary, how this decision can be enforced? In other words, what would happen to a law firm if they hired this secretary in the future?

Every now and then you come across a case that on its bare facts doesn’t look all that interesting, but makes you scratch you head and think how can that be so? For me, this was one of those cases – so if you know anything about the system in England and Wales that allowed this case to happen, I’d be very interested to hear from you!

As usual, opinions in this post are my own – and if you have any thoughts on this, feel free to let me know.


Photo credit  Raul De Los Santos on Unsplash

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