The Legal Ombudsman (LeO) has exercised for the first time its power under the Legal Services Act to name “in the public interest” a lawyer responsible for a series of complaints.
LeO said it had upheld 14 complaints in the past year against Tariq Rehman of Kings Court Chambers, a Birmingham-based barrister specialising in public access immigration work.
Steve Green, chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), LeO’s formal name, described Mr Rehman’s standards of service as “consistently poor, requiring ombudsman intervention time after time”.
Mr Green went on: “He is a risk to any potential new clients and we want to exercise our powers now to make sure people are aware of the risks before instructing him to work for them in the future.”
Formal decisions by the Legal Ombudsman have been published since September 2012, but this is the first time LeO had used what it terms its ‘category 1’ power to name a lawyer responsible for a series of complaints or one very serious complaint.
“We take the publication of public interest cases very seriously, as we appreciate the impact they can have on a service provider’s reputation,” Mr Green said. “But we also have to consider any consumer detriment that could result from not acting.”
Mr Green added that LeO had alerted the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
In a statement published on its website this morning, LeO said: “In the past 12 months, there have been 14 ombudsman decisions against Mr Rehman and this follows on from 11 in the previous year. The total awards in these cases amount to £8,087.
“Poor service has been found in the all of the cases where an ombudsman has made a final decision and it is also relevant that the nature of the complaints is thematically similar: delay, poor costs information, poor advice and poor complaint handling.
“These appear to point to a systemic failure. In view of the continuing number of complaints against Mr Rehman, the OLC board considers that the likelihood of repetition remains high and that there is a now a public interest reason for making public our concerns.”
Sara Jagger, director of professional conduct for the BSB, said: “The BSB has concerns about Mr Rehman’s professional conduct and in the interests of protecting the public has referred Mr Rehman to an independent interim suspension panel, convened by the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service.
“This panel is due to meet shortly, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
On its website, Kings Court Chambers says it specialises in public access work in UK and European immigration law, nationality and asylum law.