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Barrister with history of failing to co-operate with BSB and LeO suspended for two years

BSB: barrister failed to co-operate

A commercial barrister has been suspended from practice for failing to comply with an order of the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) and requests from his own regulator, only two years after a series of similar findings as well as a suspension for handling client money when he should not have done.

Oliver White, who was called in November 2001, was suspended for 12 months for failing to comply with a LeO direction that he should reimburse fees of £3,000 plus VAT to his former client by early January 2016.

A Bar disciplinary tribunal decided [1] that Mr White had “behaved in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in a barrister or in the legal profession”, in breach of core duty 5 of the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) code of conduct.

Mr White, who used to practice from 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square, was suspended for a further 12 months for failing to respond to the BSB in relation to a complaint made against him in April 2016.

BSB director of professional conduct, Sara Jagger, said: “Failure to comply with those regulating the profession is a serious matter. The tribunal’s findings on each charge reflects this, and serves as a reminder that barristers are required to cooperate with both the Legal Ombudsman and us.”

The finding is still open to appeal, and the last time he was suspended, Mr White did unsuccessfully appeal the sentence.

That was in 2015, when there were two tribunal findings against him. In June 2015, he was found [2] to have handled £5,000 of client money during a public access case, which led to a six-month ban from public access cases, and a £1,000 fine for then failing to co-operate with LeO and the BSB.

A fortnight later, a second tribunal suspended him [3] for three months and fined him £2,000, after ruling that he had handled £400,000 of client money in another public access matter, told solicitors involved in the case that he was entitled to conduct litigation when he was not, and did not co-operate with the BSB.

Mr White appealed the suspension, but it was confirmed by the High Court [4]. There was no suggestion of dishonesty in his conduct.