Ian Macdonald QC, one of the country’s leading immigration lawyers, has been found guilty of three misconduct offences by a Bar disciplinary tribunal.
They relate to a time when Mr Macdonald was working with Tariq Rehman, the first lawyer to be ‘named and shamed’ by the Legal Ombudsman for the number of complaints against him.
Despite its findings against the QC and former president of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (ILPA), the disciplinary tribunal ruled that no further action should be taken against him.
All three offences relate to public access work and to Mr Macdonald’s role as joint head of chambers at Kings Court Chambers in Birmingham between May and December 2012.
The disciplinary tribunal found that Mr Macdonald had “failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that his chambers were administered competently and efficiently in that he caused or permitted staff of Kings Court Chambers to accept cases in the name of Tariq Rehman under the Public Access Rules by means of a client care letter being sent to the lay client bearing the name Tariq Rehman, in circumstances in which Kings Court Chambers operated a system which did not allocate cases to any member of chambers before the client care letter was sent”.
Mr Macdonald was also found to have failed to ensure his chambers was administered competently “in that fee notes were not issued on behalf of members of chambers to lay clients for whom they had agreed to do or had done work purportedly under the Public Access Rules”.
The third offence related to complaints-handling at Kings Court Chambers. The tribunal found that Mr Macdonald had failed to ensure that the chambers was administered competently in that a complaint was made by a lay client in autumn 2012 “about legal services purportedly supplied by unidentified members of Kings Court Chambers”.
The tribunal said the lay client was not provided with, together with an acknowledgement of the complaint, the name of the person who would be dealing with it and that person’s role in chambers, a copy of the chambers’ complaints procedure, and “the date by which the lay client would next hear from chambers” as required by the Code of Conduct.
The tribunal said that each failure was “serious” and constituted professional misconduct. However, it decided that “no further action” should be taken against Mr Macdonald.
A spokeswoman for the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service said three further charges against Mr Macdonald were dismissed. She said the QC had up to 21 days from the ruling on 5 May to appeal against the findings.
Mr Macdonald, president of ILPA for almost 30 years between 1984 and 2013, is now based at Garden Court Chambers in Lincoln’s Inn.
A spokesman for Garden Court Chambers said: “Mr Macdonald was at Kings Court Chambers between April 2012 and June 2013, when he resigned. Since then, he has had absolutely no contact or dealings with them.”
Meanwhile Mr Rehman is appealing against the findings of two separate Bar disciplinary tribunals.
The first one, in October last year, sentenced him to suspension for two months over conduct likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or bring it into disrepute.
The findings of the second tribunal, published last month, were that Mr Rehman should be suspended, again for two months, for three similar offences of failing to pay other barristers.
It emerged last week that Mr Rehman had succeeded in a last-minute bid to remove the High Court judge due to hear his appeal against the first set of disciplinary findings, on the grounds of her relationship to both the chairman of the Bar disciplinary tribunal involved and the counsel for the Bar Standards Board.