Tariq Rehman, the first lawyer to be ‘named and shamed’ by the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) for a series of complaints, has been suspended by a Bar disciplinary tribunal for separate offences.
The tribunal suspended him for failing to pay three other barristers for work they had carried out.
In a ruling published by the Bar Tribunal and Arbitration Service (BTAS), Mr Rehman, an immigration barrister specialising in public access work, was suspended for two months for each offence – the sentences will run concurrently.
BTAS said a three-person disciplinary panel, chaired by David Hunt QC, sitting with Roland Doven and David Povall, found that Mr Rehman had breached the Bar’s code of conduct by not paying the three barristers. The amounts involved were £2,008, £164 and £137.
In the each case the tribunal found that Mr Rehman had received the money on 12 April 2012, and failed to pay the barrister “forthwith, such failure being a serious failure to comply with the provisions of the code, in itself, but also by reason of his failure to respond adequately or at all to telephone calls and emails and a letter from the barrister’s clerk between May 2012 and December 2012”.
At the end of last year, another Bar disciplinary tribunal decided not to suspend Mr Rehman, but banned him from taking on any new public access cases pending the outcome of any disciplinary action following LeO’s move.
Exercising 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 that it had upheld 14 complaints in the past year against the barrister, based at Kings Court Chambers in Birmingham.
Steve Green, chair of the Office for Legal Complaints (OLC), the formal name for LeO, described Mr Rehman’s standards of service as “consistently poor, requiring ombudsman intervention time after time”.
However, Mr Rehman hit back, arguing that LeO was “misleading” in failing to comment on the 97% of clients of his chambers who had not complained.
He said his chambers 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.
A spokesman for the Bar Standards Board said there was no link between the non-payment of barristers and the complaints to LeO.
He added: “We note the independent disciplinary tribunal’s verdict and suspension of Mr Rehman, following the charges we brought against him.”