Fine for barrister who took 15 months to pay fine

Cheque: Barrister’s first payment bounced

An unregistered barrister and solicitor who took 15 months to pay a £500 fine levied by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) has been reprimanded – and ordered to pay another £500.

The one time during the period where it seemed as though Babatunde Ojo had finally paid, his cheque bounced.

In 2017, Mr Ojo – called to the Bar in 2010 – was sanctioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for conducting a conveyancing transaction through an unauthorised business.

He also potentially misled a purchaser in a conveyancing transaction by requesting they send purchase monies to an account he called a client account, when in fact it was his personal account.

The SRA rebuked and fined him £2,000. In September 2018, by agreement the BSB reprimanded and fined him a further £500 for behaving in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession.

After one cheque sent in July 2019 bounced, he finally paid it in January 2020. The delay was referred to a Bar disciplinary tribunal.

The tribunal noted that Mr Ojo made “numerous promises to pay”, and was granted 10 extensions and new deadlines by the BSB, but “nearly all of his promises proved to be hollow”.

He advanced “many and various reasons” over the months as to why he could not pay, ranging from medical issues, to bereavements, foreign travel, and being kicked out of his flat.

But the tribunal said none of them came “anywhere close to actually explaining why he couldn’t pay or part-pay what was due”.

“Nothing that we have seen explains why he could not pay as promised. We note that [Mr Ojo] was plainly able to correspond (at times very promptly) with the BSB and, it seems, to travel overseas. None of his medical conditions appear to have impinged upon his ability to work or to care for his mother…

“[His] conduct was long on apology but short on actual, effective engagement with his regulator and bears all the hallmarks of blatant prevarication.”

The tribunal said the fact Mr Ojo finally paid before the tribunal hearing meaning a low-level fine of up to £1,000 was appropriate.

It fined Mr Ojo £500, plus costs of £1,200, payable within four weeks of the tribunal and reprimanded him for the way in which he conducted himself towards the BSB.

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