A barrister who failed to compensate his clients until ‘the eleventh hour’ has been fined and reprimanded by the bar disciplinary tribunal. The barrister had delayed paying £350 compensation to one client until just two hours before a disciplinary hearing and had only paid £600 compensation to another client the previous day.
The barrister had been ordered to make the payments to two clients for poor service by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO). He failed to pay and was subject to a disciplinary hearing by his regulator, the Bar Standards Board.
The first tribunal hearing found that he had behaved in a way likely to diminish the trust the public places in the profession. The tribunal also said he failed to co-operate with his regulator and failed to take reasonable steps to manage his practice competently.
The barrister was ordered to attend a second hearing to set sanctions, which could include suspension. Just hours before the hearing he paid the compensation, which had been outstanding for 12 and 18 months, to his clients.
As the compensation had been paid, the tribunal was unable to order his suspension. Instead, he was fined £2,000, reprimanded and ordered to meet the Leader of the Circuit for advice as to his future conduct.
“To say that the payments were made at the eleventh hour was an understatement,” said the tribunal. “(his) … behaviour and appalling disregard for the directions of the Legal Ombudsman suggested a behaviour that the tribunal would not expect of a member of the Bar…. (he) admitted that his conduct did not look good,” it added.
James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions, said: “Barristers and other legal professionals should take care to ensure that they respond promptly to the directions of LeO and their regulators. Professional indemnity insurers are put off from providing cover to lawyers who have poor disciplinary and complaints records, which can be fatal in difficult market conditions.”
Brunel Professions is a leading provider of PII insurance broking to the legal profession. To find out more call Mark Sommariva on 0203 475 3275.