A non-practising barrister who wrote “bullying and aggressive” emails to a group supporting people with autoinflammatory conditions has been reprimanded by a disciplinary tribunal.
Janet Bloor was found to have written to Autoinflammatory Disease UK in August 2019 as a lawyer on behalf of another organisation without making clear that she was an unregistered (ie non-practising) barrister.
She said she was preparing a letter before action and charging £250 an hour, which she would seek to recover from the group, along with costs of the QC she intended to instruct, with her acting as a junior.
In one email, Ms Bloor wrote: “Trust me, you won’t come of this well.”
The Bar disciplinary tribunal found that her emails were “bullying and aggressive”, failed to take care to avoid “unnecessary stress to the individuals who would likely read the correspondence”, and sought to use her position as a barrister to “threaten somebody or otherwise take advantage”.
She knew she was not qualified to act as a practising barrister but dishonestly represented that she was and would be acting as such.
Allegations that Ms Bloor had performed reserved legal activities were dismissed because she had “merely threatened to embark on a course of conduct” that could have led to this.
Despite the single finding of dishonesty, the tribunal said it would be disproportionate to sentence her within the dishonesty guideline; instead, it applied the sanctions for misuse of status as a barrister. “The indicative sanctions were not a straight-jacket [sic],” it said.
It continued: “The tribunal concluded that the complainant was a vulnerable individual but he was a robust character and the harm caused to him was transient.
“The tribunal concluded that the level of culpability of the respondent was low. The tribunal accepted that the respondent had intended to protect a friend and colleague.”
While Ms Bloor had shown a lack of insight and remorse, she had co-operated with the Bar Standards Board, had a clean record and “there was a low risk of repetition”. The tribunal also bore in mind the “significant health issues” that Ms Bloor had to deal with, both her own and her sons.
It concluded that a reprimand was the appropriate sanction and rejected the regulator’s application for costs.