Dual-qualified lawyer struck off as solicitor is disbarred for “persistent dishonesty”

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25 January 2016


BSB

BSB: “persistent dishonesty which affected hundreds of clients”

A dual-qualified employment lawyer, struck off as a solicitor last year for deceiving clients, has been disbarred for his “persistent dishonesty”.

Jean Etienne Attala was found by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) last year to have deceived his law firm and his clients into thinking that he was pursuing their group employment tribunal claims, when in fact they had been struck out because of his inactivity.

Describing it as a “a particularly serious case of dishonesty”, the SDT struck off Mr Attala, who was working as an employment lawyer for Thompsons, and ordered him to pay costs of £2,200.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) said that, as an unregistered barrister, Mr Attala’s conduct also came under its remit, and he had been disbarred by a Bar disciplinary tribunal, both for his dishonesty and not reporting that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) had taken action against him.

Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct at the BSB, said: “Mr Attala’s persistent dishonesty, which affected hundreds of clients, was clearly an unacceptable risk to the public and did not reflect the high standards of trust the public should expect from the profession.

“We note the tribunal’s decision to order the disbarment, which is consistent with the action we took to interim suspend Mr Attala on 3 September 2015, immediately following his strike-off as a solicitor. It is right Mr Attala is no longer a barrister.”

A BSB spokeswoman said Mr Attala’s misconduct arose while practising as a solicitor in employment matters, liaising between workers, employers and trade unions.

“Claims were subsequently struck out after he failed to seek instructions and progress matters, which he attempted to cover up by stating he had done so, when he had not.”

The spokeswoman said Mr Attala faced two charges at the disciplinary tribunal, the first relating to his conduct, for which he was struck from the roll of solicitors in September 2015.

“The second was for failing to inform the BSB that the SRA had taken disciplinary action.”

Mr Attala was admitted as a solicitor in 1991 and called to the Bar in 1994.

Following the SDT hearing, a spokesman for Thompsons said: “When someone lies and covers their tracks, it is very difficult to uncover the deceit.

“Thompsons regrets Mr Attalla’s behaviour and immediately on it being discovered made sure that none of the affected members lost out, and took action against Mr Attala. Our supervision systems are regularly reviewed and this incident fed into that ongoing process.”

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