A barrister who held himself out as practising while he in fact he was serving a suspension has been disbarred after his fourth appearance before a disciplinary tribunal.
Matthew John Boyden, who was called in 2007, was first sanctioned in 2014 and then handed three-year suspensions in both 2019 and 2021 which meant he was prohibited from applying for a practising certificate from 22 March 2019 to 21 January 2024.
Despite this, Mr Boyden attended a magistrates’ court hearing in July 2019 and filled in court forms.
In doing so, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) reported yesterday, Mr Boyden “dishonestly gave the misleading impression, to the court and to others, that he was authorised to exercise a right of audience, which is a reserved legal activity, and/or to practise as a barrister”.
Furthermore, for a period last year, Mr Boyden allowed his employer to display a profile describing him as a commercial barrister who offered reserved legal services to clients. This was also found to be dishonest.
The tribunal also found that Mr Boyden failed to be open and cooperative with the BSB by failing to respond to its investigation.
The first tribunal in 2014 said he failed to comply with a county court judgment and with a deputy district judge’s order made in the same case, and did not co-operate with the BSB. He was suspended for six months and fined £1,000.
In 2019, a tribunal found that, having appeared before the criminal division of the Court of Appeal when the client’s case was adjourned, Mr Boyden did not notify his chambers “clearly or at all” that he had decided to withdraw from it.
Further, he actually told his clerks that he was available to attend the appeal hearing and did not say in reply to subsequent messages from them that he was not. Mr Boyden assured his client that his chambers had taken over the case, but in fact had not taken steps to ensure alternative representation.
Mr Boyden also did not respond to a request for an update from the Registrar of the Court of Appeal and failed to co-operate once more with the BSB. As well as the suspension, he was fined £11,500 as well.
In 2021, a tribunal found that he failed to be open and co-operative with his regulator and failed to comply in due time with an administrative sanction of £400 imposed on him by the BSB in 2016.
The 2019 tribunal noted that Mr Boyden had “an appalling history, over a short period of time, of failing blatantly to comply with requests from information from the regulator in particular”.
The full ruling of the latest tribunal has not yet been published while its decision remains open to appeal. It also ordered Mr Boyden to pay costs of £4,000.
Commenting on the disbarment, a BSB spokesman said: “The tribunal found that Mr Boyden failed to comply with an order from a disciplinary tribunal, dishonestly misled the courts and the public into believing that he was authorised to provide reserved legal services when he was suspended from practice, and refused to cooperate with the regulator when his conduct was being investigated.
“The tribunal’s decision to disbar Mr Boyden reflects the seriousness and impact of his conduct.”