A barrister whose actions in speaking to the opposing lay client in the absence of their lawyer led a court to adjourn a hearing has been sanctioned by a disciplinary tribunal.
Mariam El-Sobky failed in her duty to the court, and diminished the trust and confidence the public places in her and the profession, according to a ruling of the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service.
The barrister, called in 2001, was acting for the respondent in family law proceedings. Two days before a hearing in May 2019, she went to the home where both the applicant and respondent lived and spoke to the applicant about the proceedings in the absence of their lawyer.
As a result, the hearing was adjourned and Ms El-Sobky fixed with a wasted costs order.
She then failed to report to the Bar Standards Board “that she had committed serious misconduct”, the summary ruling said.
She was reprimanded in relation to her future conduct, fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,560.
In addition, the tribunal ordered that she shadow an experienced practitioner for six months and that person should then submit to the BSB a certificate of competence.
The reasoning behind the ruling, which is currently open to appeal, will be published in the coming weeks.
It is the second time Ms El-Sobky has been before a disciplinary tribunal in little over a year.
In March 2020, she was reprimanded and fined £3,000 for failing to comply with a court order to pay a builder she had used and then instructing solicitors to write to the claimant company to say she was not aware of the order and had not been served with a claim form, when that was not correct.
Though the tribunal accepted that Ms El-Sobky’s admissions of recklessness amounted to one of dishonesty, it decided against the standard sanction of disbarment on the basis that “her personal circumstances put her under increasing pressure, leading to the relevant conduct”.