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Interview with Stuart Smith, Partner, Weightmans

Q What is your role at Weightmans?

A. I head up the Weightmans team that advises clients on issues connected with fraud. Fraud is a massive issue in the UK and my role is to look at how it affects our clients, how they detect it, how they handle it and how they set a deterrent to it. The types of clients we advise include personal lines insurers, commercial insurers, self insured companies, bus and coach operators, freight companies and public authorities so there is a lot to look at and all are affected by fraud in different ways.

Q Why did you become a solicitor?

A. I’m not sure that the job turned out how I expected it to be when I first decided to become a solicitor! However the reason I am still doing it is that every day presents a different challenge and you never know what to expect next!

Q What’s the best part of your job?

A. Fraudsters never admit their claims are fraudulent so the best part is when a Judge dismisses a case on that basis. The low point is when we have to pay claims we know are dishonest but where we do not have enough evidence to defend them.

Q What’s the most interesting case you have dealt with?

A. The ingenuity of fraudsters never ceases to amaze me so there are lots of stories to tell. One of my favourites involved 55 people alleging to be injured on a bus (that usually had no one on it) when it was hit by a car. Often it is the case that people alleging to be injured on buses weren’t there at all. However, in this case all 55 were there, they just knew the ‘accident’ was going to happen. I find that if accidents like this are too good to be true they usually aren’t. It is little wonder that I am often cynical about the cases I deal with!

Q What would you have been if you weren’t a lawyer?

A. I would have worked for the organised crime agencies (I still privately fancy it, but don’t tell anyone). I am lucky in that my job involves liaising with them so I get the best of both worlds.

Q What would you advise lawyers beginning their legal career in the current economic climate?

A. Only a small part of being a lawyer is knowing what the law is. Understanding your clients business is at least as important and even more so in a recession.

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