Barrister “recklessly misled” BSB in applying for practising certificate

BSB: Issued PC

A barrister who “recklessly misled” the Bar Standards Board (BSB) into giving him a practising certificate (PC) by falsely stating that he was a door tenant at a set of chambers has been disbarred.

A Bar disciplinary tribunal said it had “considerable concerns” about Naseem Ahmed Bajwa’s integrity, including his evidence that “he left his son to complete these applications on his behalf”, without giving the son instructions.

The tribunal heard that Mr Bajwa, called in 2012, submitted two online applications for a PC in January 2022. One was withdrawn because of an error concerning rights of audience but the BSB approved the other.

The barrister was found to have “recklessly misled” the BSB by falsely claiming to be a door tenant at Martin Burr Chambers in the City and that he would start practising there as a self-employed barrister within the next few days.

The tribunal said it was “entirely satisfied” that Mr Bajwa, who denied the allegations, acted recklessly because “he had previously received no communication whatsoever from Martin Burr Chambers” that he would be offered a door tenancy.

“Indeed no such confirmation of his status as a door tenant at the chambers was ever received following submission of the practising certificate applications.”

The tribunal said Mr Bajwa’s recklessness, which it described as “at a high level”, was “compounded by the fact” that he signed a declaration of truth with each application.

The misconduct “led directly” to the grant of the PC, “against a background of erroneous and inaccurate information”.

The “lack of certainty” about him becoming a door tenant “was clarified to some extent” in an email he sent to the BSB later in January, but only after the PC was granted.

The reference to the start date of practice in each of the applications “added an appearance of credibility” to the applications and led the BSB to update its records to show that Mr Bajwa was qualified to practise as a self-employed door tenant at Martin Burr Chambers with effect from 17 January 2022.

“The tribunal has considerable concerns about Mr Bajwa’s integrity and objectives in making the applications in the manner in which he did.

“This extended to his evidence that he left his son to complete these applications on his behalf on the 11 and 14 January 2022 respectively without instructions from himself.”

Having told the BSB that “it would be safe to say” that his current position at the chambers was that of a squatter – which the tribunal said was “patently not the case” – Mr Bajwa made a formal application for tenancy in February 2022. This was rejected the following month.

“Furthermore, Mr Bajwa referenced that a member of Martin Burr Chambers had kindly agreed to be his supervisor and erroneously asserted that this arrangement was independent of his membership of chambers, when membership of chambers and the confirmation of a qualified person (the supervisor) was an essential prerequisite for the practising certificate.”

The tribunal rejected the BSB’s allegations that Mr Bajwa had acted dishonestly “because of the absence of sufficiently cogent evidence that the misleading statements in the two practising certificate applications were made deliberately and dishonestly by Mr Bajwa, rather than being the result of gross recklessness on his part when instructing his son to complete the online applications”.

The tribunal said Mr Bajwa had appeared before a disciplinary hearing in 2019 and been suspended from practice for a period over a false declaration on an application for admission to Gray’s Inn.

The “previous disciplinary findings of a similar nature, the lack of remorse and the lack of any insight” were all aggravating factors, and “there was a likelihood of repetition of the behaviour”.

He was disbarred and ordered to pay £2,670 in costs.

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