Barristers disbarred for repeatedly refusing to pay tribunal fines

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13 November 2014

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Bar tribunal: barristers “had no regard for regulatory process”

Two barristers have been disbarred for repeatedly refusing to pay a total of almost £12,000 between them in fines and costs.

A Bar disciplinary tribunal found that Stephen Desmond Hourigan had failed to comply with a ruling imposed by a tribunal in September last year, which ordered him to pay a fine of £1,000.

A spokesman for the Bar Standards Board (BSB) said Mr Hourigan, who had been referred to four tribunals in as many years, continued to owe almost £9,000 in outstanding fines and costs.

A second, separate tribunal found that Martin Vose failed to pay fines and costs totalling £1,394, despite being ordered to do so by a tribunal in June 2011.

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The spokesman said that like Mr Hourigan, Mr Vose did not respond to requests from the BSB for comments or information about a complaint.

He said that Mr Vose had been suspended at an earlier tribunal hearing in March 2010 for not paying another fine and now owed nearly £3,000.

Sara Jagger, director of the BSB’s professional conduct department, said: “Both Mr Hourigan and Mr Vose repeatedly refused to comply with the orders of a number of independent tribunals and ignored our attempts to try to engage with each of them on these matters.

“They have made it very clear that they have no regard for the regulatory process, which is there to protect the public. We are content that both panels made absolutely the right decision in these cases.”

In a separate ruling, a Bar disciplinary tribunal disbarred another barrister, Iain Leadbetter, for professional conduct described by Judge Stuart Sleeman, chair of the panel, as representing a “persistent departure from the standards expected of a barrister”.

Judge Sleeman said the disbarment of Mr Leadbetter, whose past conduct had seen him referred to four previous disciplinary tribunals, was necessary “to maintain the reputation of the Bar and to maintain public confidence in the profession”.

The tribunal heard that Mr Leadbetter had practised as a barrister between 1 May 2013 and 31 December 2013 without having a valid practising certificate, and failed to respond promptly to the BSB’s requests for further information.

A spokesman for the BSB said Mr Leadbetter had a history of misconduct, including failure to comply with continuing professional development requirements, refusing to pay fines and costs of over £3600, and declining to supply the Barristers’ Mutual Insurance Fund with the proper renewal cover documents.

Judge Sleeman described Mr Leadbetter’s behaviour as “causing damage to the reputation of the Bar”.

Ms Jagger said: “Mr Leadbetter has shown brazen disregard for the need to comply with proper standards of practice, and has repeatedly put at risk public confidence in his own profession.”

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