Suspension for barrister who appeared in court without practising certificate

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13 November 2015


BSB: acting without authorisation could amount to criminal offence

A Bar disciplinary tribunal has suspended barrister Martin Wynne Jones for three months for representing clients in court without a practising certificate.

The tribunal found that on 1 May last year, Mr Jones represented a client at the Central London County Court without a valid PC, and continued to practice without one until the end of July.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) said Mr Jones had appeared before a disciplinary tribunal in May 2014 “for a similar matter, which also involved practising without a valid certificate and exercising rights of audience in court when not authorised to do so.”

Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct at the BSB said: “The tribunal’s decision to suspend Mr Jones acts as a reminder for all barristers about the importance of ensuring they have a valid practising certificate at all times during which they are practising.

“We would also remind barristers that in certain circumstances, acting without authorisation can amount to a criminal offence under the Legal Services Act 2007.”

Earlier this month, Bahamas-based barrister Shavon Bethel was disbarred after it emerged that he had falsely claimed to have been awarded a law degree by the University of London.

The BSB said Mr Bethel produced fake degree certificates to back up his claim. “Mr Bethel made the false claim in 2006, when he applied to become a student member of Inner Temple. He relied on the same false claim when he was called to the Bar by Inner Temple in 2013.”

A Bar disciplinary tribunal ruled that such conduct was incompatible with the status of barrister.

Ms Jagger said: “By falsely claiming that he obtained a degree from the University of London, Mr Bethel acted in a deceitful and dishonest way.

“The fact that he forged certification to embellish his deception, was a further indication that Mr Bethel is not a suitable person to be a member of the Bar of England and Wales”.

Martin Christie was disbarred at the end of last month, for making false declarations about his criminal convictions.

The BSB said Mr Christie applied to become a member of Gray’s Inn in 1999 and was called to the Bar in 2003, and before both of these events had made false declarations about his criminal convictions.

“In 1999, when applying for student membership of Gray’s Inn, he disclosed two of his earlier convictions but failed to disclose seven other convictions dating back to 1968.

“In 2001, Mr Christie pleaded guilty to an offence of forgery in Chester Crown Court, for which he was given a conditional discharge for two years and ordered to pay costs of £290. When applying for admission to the Bar in 2003, he failed additionally to disclose the 2001 offence.

“The disciplinary tribunal considered that because Mr Christie’s actions amounted to dishonesty, they were discreditable to and incompatible with the status of a barrister.”

Ms Jagger commented: “Sometimes barristers with minor or historic convictions may be permitted to enter the profession, but Mr Christie acted dishonestly when he failed to declare the full extent of his convictions.”

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