Barrister loses appeal against disbarment for misconduct over illness claim
Inns of Court: Visitors uphold convictions in three appeals
The Visitors of the Inns of Court have thrown out appeals by a barrister against three disciplinary tribunal rulings, including one which disbarred him for seeking an adjournment of his case on grounds of ill-health, although he was found acting in a trial just days later.
The Visitors unanimously dismissed three appeals against conviction by Yash Mehey, who did not appear and was not represented. But it allowed one appeal against sentence.
Mr Mehey was one of the three barristers who unsuccessfully argued that decisions made against them were invalidated by the fact that time-expired tribunal members sat in their cases. The Court of Appeal rejected the final appeal arising from this long-running issue in December 2014.
The Visitors refused a last-minute request to adjourn the hearing of the appeals on the grounds that Mr Mehey was suffering from “a moderately serious depressive illness”. It said that in part its decision to go ahead was based on the fact that Mr Mehey would remain disbarred whatever its findings.
This was because Mr Mehey had been sentenced to be disbarred after separate disciplinary proceedings. An appeal against that decision was dismissed by a Visitors’ panel chaired by Mr Justice Royce in July 2011, and attempts to judicially review that decision also failed.
The Visitors also noted their scepticism, because “before almost every one of the very many disciplinary hearings which have taken place in connection with complaints against Mr Mehey, there has been an application for an adjournment. Almost all of them have been made on the very eve of the hearing”.
The three appeals covered tribunal hearings between 2008 and 2011. A number of charges, complaints upheld, and sanctions were involved. They included failing to act with reasonable competence during a trial, failing to complete CPD, and failure to respond promptly to requests from the Bar Standards Board.
The 2008 tribunal that found proved a charge of failing to act with competence, among other particulars, ordered sanctions including a suspension for nine months. While upholding the conviction, the Visitors unanimously allowed the appeal against sentence, substituting it with an order of suspension of four months.
The other two appeals centred on the tribunals’ refusals to permit adjournment on grounds of ill health, which Mr Mehey argued were wrong. In one, a tribunal had to consider a charge that he had misled an earlier tribunal by saying he was unwell when he was not.
Immediately before a disciplinary hearing in November 2007, Mr Mehey’s wife had written to the tribunal asking for an adjournment on behalf of her husband, who she said had recently suffered a mild stroke. She enclosed a statutory sick pay note from his doctor saying he should refrain from work for one month.
The adjournment was granted on the eve of the two-day hearing set to start on 6 November 2007. But on 7 November, Mr Mehey acted for a client in an all-day trial at Birmingham Magistrates Court.
The BSB later charged him with misconduct for having “caused or permitted to be sent a request for an adjournment of a two-day disciplinary tribunal… on the grounds of his ill health, when he was in fact well enough to attend”.
The Visitors rejected Mr Mehey’s submission that disbarment was “disproportionate or manifestly excessive” after he was found guilty of “misleading the earlier tribunal about his fitness to attend a hearing”. In the circumstances, the sanction was “inevitable”, they said.
The Visitors also rejected a request by Mr Mehey that the decision should remain private. They explained: “The appeal hearing took place in public. The decisions of the three disciplinary tribunals are publicly available and it is in the public interest that the outcome of the appeals from those decisions should also be public.”
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