inns of court

Bar ruling: fresh disciplinary tribunal must be held

Rabi Sukul, a former barrister accused of drafting false grounds of appeal for a young criminal client, has won the right to a fresh disciplinary tribunal hearing on whether or not he should have been disbarred.

At an ex tempore High Court hearing last week, Lord Justice Laws and Mr Justice Cranston allowed his appeal in part, on the grounds that he should have been allowed to make representations in mitigation.

According to a Lawtel report of the hearing, Laws LJ and Cranston J held that although Mr Sukul had “no belief” in his grounds for appeal and this was “very serious”, it was “not necessarily at the top range of the behaviour within the code of conduct”.

The judges ruled that the Bar disciplinary tribunal should “at the very least” have considered whether Mr Sukul, who had retired from practice and was living abroad, should be allowed to make representations.

At the time of the incident, Mr Sukul practised from Balham Chambers in London but since July 2013 had been a justice of appeal in Guyana, a post from which he resigned as a result of the disbarrment, according to local media reports.

At a Bar disciplinary tribunal in February this year, Mr Sukul was found to have engaged in conduct likely to bring the profession into disrepute “by creating a document entitled ‘application to appeal against conviction’ that was false and he knew it was false”. He appealed against the sentence of disbarment.

He was also found to have “recklessly misled the court” by “allowing or inducing the court to believe that an application for leave to appeal against conviction was a true document, and that there were genuine grounds of appeal, when he knew that there were no such grounds of appeal and he failed to notify the Court of Appeal of this fact”.

Mr Sukul was suspended from practice for nine months for the second offence, but did not appeal against this part of the ruling.

The tribunal heard that Mr Sukul’s client had been found guilty of drugs-related offences at Snaresbrook Crown Court and sentenced to a Young Offenders Institute.

Having originally praised the tribunal for making “absolutely the right decision”, a Bar Standards Board spokesman said yesterday: “The charges against Mr Sukul remain proved as his appeal was against his sentence, in respect of the first charge only. The level of sanction imposed is entirely a matter for the independent disciplinary tribunals to decide and we look forward to assisting the fresh tribunal panel in due course.”

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