Following on from our Q&A with Catherine Reynolds, we get to know more about another of Truth Legal’s exceptional lawyers: Katherine Swinn.

Katherine has been an integral part of the team since she joined the firm as a Consultant Solicitor in December 2018.

Known throughout the firm and beyond as an attentive, tenacious, and highly skilled solicitor, Katherine was made Truth Legal’s Head of General Litigation in 2023 – which includes all of the professional negligence cases handled by the firm, as well as data breach claims, contractual disputes, consumer matters and debt recovery.

Alongside all of that, Katherine has a great deal of experience in employment law and works closely with Truth Legal’s dedicated employment team to assist clients in a wide range of work-related claims and disputes.

But now, on to the questions!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your legal background?

Katherine: I have worked in law for over 16 years.  My first role was as a paralegal at Hutchinson & Buchanan Solicitors in Ripon starting in January 2008.  Soon after, I was offered a training contract and then qualified as a solicitor in February 2010. I remained at the firm for over 10 years working as an Associate Solicitor.

Prior to working in law, I worked as an Administrative Officer at Harrogate County Court for 10 years. During this time, I completed a law degree with the Open University and Legal Practice Course with the College of Law.

Q. What made you want to become a lawyer?

K: When I was doing my A Levels, and then after I received my results, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

I started work initially as a temporary Administrative Assistant at Harrogate County Court. The contract kept being extended and I was then made permanent as an Administrative Officer.  I really enjoyed helping people, which I did on a daily basis – both on the telephone and at the public counter. There was a lot of contact with members of public, solicitors, barristers and judges.  This was a fantastic experience and really helped me.

After a few years, I realised that I wanted to work on the other side and help people as a solicitor rather than from an administrative perspective.  It was shortly after this that I started my law degree.

Q. What do you particularly enjoy about handling professional negligence claims?

K: Helping people and trying to put the pieces back together as best as possible.

Sometimes when I’m contacted about a professional negligence claim, the client’s life may have been ruined by an incident of professional negligence and might never be the same again. This is often the case when the professional negligence has been committed by an immigration advisor, which means the client may be unable to work or obtain secure accommodation.  The client may have also suffered mental health issues as a result.

It’s my role to try to put them back in the position they were in (or would have been in) if the professional negligence hadn’t taken place, so far as possible. This isn’t always easy and may be a long journey. But it is always extremely rewarding when a settlement is achieved and it makes my efforts worthwhile.

Q. What would you say to someone who was thinking of making a professional negligence claim, but is finding it hard to trust another professional?

K: I can totally understand this.  From personal experience, I know it’s hard to trust after you’ve had a bad experience with anyone, let alone a professional. You should be able to trust a professional, whether they’re a lawyer, surveyor, or any other kind of qualified expert.

What I would do is talk to you, discuss what has happened, understand what has happened, empathise with you, and gradually try to build that trust.  I appreciate that this may not be something that is done quickly, but hopefully over time it would be possible to establish the trust needed to let me help you with your professional negligence claim. My aim would be to provide you with a positive experience with a professional – at the same time as securing you compensation for the negative experience you’ve had.

Q. What do you dislike about working in law?

K: The law isn’t always what we would like it to be; it can be frustrating and justice isn’t always done.

Something that frustrates me is Defendants who don’t comply with the pre-action protocol on professional negligence claims. The pre-action protocol is a set of rules governing how claims should be dealt with before a court is involved. One of these rules requires them to submit a detailed ‘letter of response’ within 3 months of acknowledging the letter of claim. Recently, I’m seeing Defendants who respond late or don’t respond at all and the options for the Claimant are unfortunately very limited in these circumstances.

Q. What law relating to professional negligence would you change, and why?

K: Following on from the above, I would like to see sanctions for Defendants who fail to respond to the letter of claim, or respond to the letter of claim late or who fail to engage generally when dealing with professional negligence claims – without the Claimant being effectively forced to issue court proceedings. As it stands, all the Claimant is really able to do is to warn the Defendant that they’ll be seeking payment of their costs from the court for the Defendant’s failure to comply with the pre-action protocol and then issue court proceedings.

Q. What does a typical working day look like for you?

K: Typically, I’ll be dealing with new enquiries, managing the two legal helplines that the firm has, providing supervision on those and dealing with any ongoing cases as appropriate.  On other days, I may need to deal with enquiries on the legal helplines, deal with compliance matters or assist with employment clients and/or the business services side provided by our employment department.

Q. What have been some of your best experiences so far working at Truth Legal?

K: My best experiences have included working my way up from starting as a Consultant Solicitor in December 2018 to being promoted to Head of General Litigation in June 2023, which I’m really proud of.

In terms of cases, I’ve achieved some good settlements on professional negligence claims and have been pleased to see clients being largely put back in the position they were in before the professional negligence occurred.

One particular case, against a firm of solicitors who were negligent in respect of an employment matter, took several years to resolve. During this time, we had to report the solicitor concerned to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The SRA took regulatory action and the solicitor ended up being struck off, and so preventing the solicitor from causing any similar harm to other clients in future.  But one of the reasons the claim took so long is that the firm of solicitors were initially unwilling to accept liability despite the negligence being clear. The claim was successfully resolved once their insurers took over conduct.

When I started at the firm as a Consultant Solicitor in December 2018, I took over a litigation matter in which we were acting for the Defendant.  I believed that the claim was false – or at least that the Claimant didn’t have a valid claim against the Defendant.  It also appeared that the Claimant had tried to create evidence and that her witnesses were unreliable. We won the claim at trial in mid-2019 and I was so proud given the difficulties with the claim, the fact that it appeared the odds were stacked against us and also the fact that justice was done in spite. The client was very grateful.

Q. Are there any tips you could give to someone who is worried they have fallen foul of professional negligence?

K: Seek independent legal advice early.  If you believe that your solicitor or another professional has made a mistake or poorly advised you, which has caused you to suffer some kind of financial harm, then seek independent legal advice as soon as you can. This will ideally ensure any potential harm is limited and/or reduced and that it’s easier to secure any evidence.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that you keep hold of any documentation that you may have received from, or sent to, the professional during your dealings with them.  This is helpful for any potential claim which you may have, and will be valuable for me, or any other solicitor, who is considering your legal position for a possible claim.  There is also a general requirement to provide all relevant documents to your solicitor in any event.

Q. If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what would you be?

K: Difficult to say. Potentially I may have stayed working in the Civil Service or at Harrogate County Court as I enjoyed it or maybe I’d have done something in sport/football.

Q. When you are not working, how do you spend your spare time?

K: Football is a large part of my life and has been a lifelong love since I was growing up. I’m a Liverpool supporter and also a season ticket holder for Harrogate Town so I attend all their home matches and travel to some away matches.

I’ve also been playing football for my local ladies team every season since starting in September 1997. I presently play for the reserve team of Harrogate Railway Ladies. We also have a first team and I’m the long standing Secretary of both teams.

If you would like to get in touch with Katherine to see if she can help you with a general legal dispute or professional negligence matter, please don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.


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