The first lawyer to be ‘named and shamed’ by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) for a series of complaints has argued that he is only “trying to adapt to new market forces”.
Immigration barrister Tariq Rehman said LeO was “misleading” in failing to comment on the 97% of clients of his chambers who had not complained.
Mr Rehman argued that Kings Court Chambers, based in Birmingham, dealt with around 300 clients per month, and a “large majority” of the 14 complaints upheld by LeO related to administrative errors or late payment of refunds.
He accused LeO of trying to “prevent an attempt by a non-establishment chambers to compete in a new and very different market for legal services”.
LeO said earlier this week that Mr Rehman’s standards of service were “consistently poor, requiring ombudsman intervention time after time”, and that it had named him because he was “a risk to any potential new client”.
However, Mr Rehman said the chambers was “compelled to look at innovative ways in which to operate differently to gain the flexibility that would allow it to service clients in a different environment and to take on larger volumes of work.”
In a statement, Mr Rehman went on: “Kingscourt Chambers used a marketing strategy to attract large volumes of work through the direct access scheme whilst keeping within the regulations which govern chambers or other legal entities of this kind.
“This type of reaction from the Legal Ombudsman is misleading and does not truly reflect the efforts being made by barristers in trying to adapt to the changes.”
The statement went on to complain that he had been “specifically targeted and vilified” by LeO as an Asian ethnic minority lawyer.
“There are many ethnic minority lawyers who will keep silent and not highlight their grievances, for fear of repercussions and deliberate targeting which usually follows to hush them up if they dare speak out against the disproportionate treatment by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and the Legal Ombudsman, who are allegedly ‘protecting the public’.
“It would appear that Mr Rehman has been specifically targeted, despite nearly 15 years at the bar and without a single complaint made against him by any client he has represented in the criminal courts.”
The Legal Ombudsman declined to comment.