A barrister who failed to tell a client that he was withdrawing from their case before the Court of Appeal has effectively been suspended for three years.
A Bar disciplinary tribunal ruled that Matthew Boyden, called in 2007, should be fined £11,500 and that his practising certificate should not be renewed for three years. He does not currently have one.
The brief report of its decision said that, over a period of four and a half months in 2015, Mr Boyden failed to provide a competent standard of work to his client, failed to act in his client’s best interests and/or failed to return his instructions promptly.
Specifically, having appeared before the criminal division of the Court of Appeal when the client’s case was adjourned, he 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.
Then, “to the extent that he made his client aware that he was not proposing to attend the hearing”, Mr Boyden assured his client that his chambers had taken over the case from him – when actually he had not taken steps to ensure alternative representation.
The tribunal also found that he did not inform his client that he needed to take any steps to instruct alternative representation, or of any steps he needed to take to prepare for the appeal.
Another finding was that the barrister did not respond to a request for an update from the Registrar of the Court of Appeal about enquiries into the conduct of trial counsel, “thereby failing to observe his duty to the court in the administration of justice”.
To compound matters, Mr Boyden failed to co-operate with the Bar Standards Board (BSB) in its investigation.
Asked why it had taken so long to bring the matter before the tribunal, a BSB spokesman said: “The BSB only began disciplinary proceedings after the matter was referred to us following an internal chambers investigation in May 2017.
“Mr Boyden was difficult to contact and therefore the proceedings look longer than usual to conclude.”
It is the barrister’s second appearance before a disciplinary tribunal.
In 2014, he was found to have engaged in conduct “which was likely to bring the legal profession into disrepute” by failing to comply with a county court judgment and failing fully to comply with a deputy district judge’s order made in the same case.
Once again, he failed to respond promptly to emails from the Bar Standards Board.
Mr Boyden was suspended for six months and fined £1,000 as a result.
The most recent decision remains open to appeal at this time.