Public access barrister suspended over “hostile emails” to solicitors

Tribunal: Barrister misled judge

A public access barrister who engaged in “unnecessarily hostile and antagonistic correspondence” with opposing solicitors has been suspended for six months.

A disciplinary tribunal found Peter Wareing guilty of a series of other rule breaches in his conduct of the same employment dispute, including misleading an employment tribunal and the opposing solicitor, as well as falsely telling his client he was permitted to conduct litigation.

Mr Wareing, who was called in 2004, sent four hostile emails to opposing solicitors which were referenced in their successful application for costs against him.

The Bar tribunal said creating “a hostile relationship” with the lawyers was to the potential detriment of his client, the claimant in the dispute.

In June 2015, he received an email from the respondent’s solicitors attaching a disclosure list. He forwarded it on to his client, ‘CR’, and said: “Tactically, to give us some time to response, I am going to suggest that I have just received his list, in consequence of other work, which is (nearly) true.”

This he did, an act which the tribunal said lacked honesty and integrity, and breached the rules by knowingly misleading a solicitor.

Three months later, CR sent him a 27-page, 88-paragraph witness statement, which he told her “at first blush anyway appears to cover all the issues that will need to be raised in the hearing”.

It was, he said, “a great statement”, though he cautioned that he would have to consider it further before finalising it.

A month later, the barrister emailed Bristol Employment Tribunal falsely claiming that it had not been possible to prepare, draft or edit any statement for his client or any of her witnesses.

At a case management hearing nine days later, a judge asked the client if she had prepared a statement. The Bar tribunal recorded: “CR responded that she had prepared a statement and Peter Wareing interrupted her, stating that CR had only been able to draft a witness statement in ‘bullet point form’.”

This breached his duty to the court and was a failure to act with honesty and integrity.

He did all this work when he was not authorised to undertake public access work, the tribunal found.

Mr Wareing also sent CR client-care letters which contained the false statement “I am one of the few barristers permitted by the BSB to conduct litigation”. He was in fact not authorised to conduct litigation.

His actions were also found to have diminished public trust.

In addition to the six-month suspension, Mr Wareing was reprimanded, advised as to his future conduct, told he must attend a Bar Standards Board-approved direct access course before returning to practice, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

A BSB spokesman said: “The tribunal’s decision to suspend Mr Wareing for six months serves as a reminder to all barristers about the need to adhere to the standards of conduct laid out in the BSB Handbook.”

The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal and the full decision will be published in the coming weeks.

The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal and the full decision will be published in the coming weeks.

In 2017, Mr Wareing, then an unregistered barrister, was reprimanded for acting for seven clients on a public access basis in 2014 when he had not gone through the public access training; he also conducted litigation for one of the clients without a litigation extension to his practising certificate.

Also in relation to that lay client, Mr Wareing failed either to file and serve evidence in support of an application to set aside a judgment, with the result that the application was adjourned and his client ordered to pay the claimant’s costs of the hearing on an indemnity basis.

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