High Court slaps barrister with civil restraint order over relentless challenges to disciplinary rulings

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By Legal Futures

2 August 2016

Complaints: barrister's claims rejected by three judges

Complaints: barrister’s claims rejected by three judges

The High Court has issued a two-year civil restraint order (CRO) against a barrister who has repeatedly and unsuccessfully challenged disciplinary findings made against him.

Mr Justice Hickinbottom made the order against Tariq Rehman, a Birmingham-based barrister who in 2014 became the first lawyer to be ‘named and shamed’ by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) for the number of complaints upheld against him.

Recent figures from the LeO showed that in the year to 31 March 2016, Mr Rehman single-handedly generated more complaints than any law firm.

Both the LeO and the Bar Standards Board (BSB) called on the judge to make the CRO. It means Mr Rehman will have obtain the permission of the court before making any claim or application relating to his disciplinary matters.

After dismissing his latest challenges in Rehman v The Bar Standards Board [2016] EWHC 2023 (Admin), Hickinbottom J said: “In considering whether a CRO should be made against Mr Rehman, I approach the task with something of a heavy heart, given that Mr Rehman is a member of the Bar.

“However, as Mr Mullins [for the BSB] rightly submitted, in this context, members of the Bar do not have a privileged position: indeed, they, more than members of the general public who have no legal training and no professional responsibilities towards the courts, should be sensitively aware of the need to restrain litigants from wasting the increasingly precious time and resources of the justice system, as well as the time and resources of the other parties to the meritless litigation they commence and pursue.”

The judge said Mr Rehman had been found by three different judges to have issued meritless claims, appeals and applications against, amongst others, the BSB, LeO and a wide variety of members of the legal profession and judges in relation to disciplinary proceedings he has faced. The barrister has argued that there is a conspiracy against him.

Hickinbottom J is a solicitor and in one of the applications before him, he said, Mr Rehman was seeking an order that he be struck off the roll.

Mr Rehman was also bidding to reopen decisions the judge made in May, submitting 197 grounds to support his case. Hickinbottom J said the barrister’s assertions were becoming “more extreme”.

He said: “For example, ground 126 denies that that I am a judge, and denies that this court is a court. For from being necessary to reopen the appeals and judicial reviews to avoid real injustice, it would be inimical to the cause of justice to reopen them.”

Deciding to make the CRO, the judge said: “Having considered the relevant factors in this case, I have concluded that, unless restrained, there is a very high risk – amounting to almost certainty – that Mr Rehman will continue to issue and pursue meritless claims, appeals and applications relating to disciplinary proceedings in which he has been, is and in the future may be, involved.”

Among the factors were that “Mr Rehman has sought to challenge almost every order of the court, including simple orders for directions, which cannot sensibly have been challengeable or even controversial. Mr Rehman has indicated that he currently has seven appeals pending in the Court of Appeal (Civil Division), as well as applications in the Supreme Court, arising out of these claims”.

Further, last week the barrister sent draft proceedings to the Bar Council in respect of an intended new claim, Hickinbottom J noted. In these, he proposed to sue the Bar Council, the LeO, the Ministry of Justice and named individuals for damages – including special damages of £2.3m, as well as aggravated and exemplary damages – on the basis of nine causes of action.

These included, he said, “fraud, abuse of process, misconduct in public office, harassment and abuses of his human rights, seeking an injunction restraining the regulator from performing its statutory duty, the courts from taking any further step against Mr Rehman, and anyone publishing (e.g.) panel determinations and court judgments adverse to him”.

The judge said: “This is highly indicative of a desire on Mr Rehman’s part to continue with the course of litigation he has recently been pursuing.”

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