An experienced barrister has been suspended for three months and fined £1,000 for twice breaching a non-molestation order to see his ex-girlfriend.
A Bar disciplinary tribunal said the fact Sami Ur Rahman, based at 5 Pump Court and called to the Bar in 1996, did “a large amount of family work” was “something of an aggravating factor”.
The tribunal said Mr Rahman, called in 1996, had been involved in an “extra-marital relationship” with a woman referred to as Ms X, which ended in February 2018.
Ms X obtained a non-molestation order against him at the end of March at Uxbridge Family Court, banning him from entering any address where he believed Ms X lived, and from going within 100 metres of that address.
He was also banned from contacting her except through her solicitor.
However, the following month Mr Rahman “by subterfuge” contacted Ms X and managed to see her at one of the addresses, and breached the order again the following day after she sent him a message. He was then arrested.
The barrister pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching the order at Isleworth Crown Court. He was sentenced to a 12-month community order with a requirement to perform 80 hours of unpaid work and a restraining order preventing him from contacting Ms X.
The Bar tribunal quoted the sentencing remarks of the recorder at Isleworth, who described Mr Rahman, aged 49, as “not in the best health either physically or mentally”, and estranged from his wife and three children, who lived in Ireland.
The recorder said the non-molestation order was breached “as a consequence of the ending of your relationship with the complainant [who] works, as I understand it, in part at least, as an escort”.
He said that at the first meeting, Ms X “made it clear that she did not want to see you and evidently you left”. But he returned the following day.
The recorder said the breaches caused the complainant “some distress” but took into account mitigation that Mr Rahman had health difficulties and suffered a “depressive illness” following the breakdown of his relationship with Ms X.
The Bar disciplinary tribunal, chaired by John Foy QC, said it was a serious matter for a barrister not to comply with a court judgment, with the guidelines on sanction saying it indicated a “level of contempt” for the legal process.
The tribunal said it took into account the contents of two medical reports, that the barrister had expressed genuine remorse and that the offence was out of character.
“He cannot now understand why he acted as he did. He self-reported his conviction and we take into account the references provided and that he apparently has the support of his head of chambers.
“We also appreciate the fact that his wife, from whom he is separated, has come from Ireland to support him.
“In the end, however, we are of the clear view that the respondent has let down the profession and, more importantly, the public.”
A three-month suspension would “mark the seriousness” of Mr Rahman’s misconduct, but it does not start until 1 May so that he could fulfil two outstanding professional commitments that could not easily be returned.
He was also fined a “modest” £1,000, “having regard to his current financial commitments”.
The tribunal added Mr Rahman had twice before been disciplined, in 2002 and 2004, for “different and less serious” misconduct.