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Suspension for barrister who told chambers he was working pro bono when client was actually paying

BSB: barristers did not inform regulator of convictions promptly [1]

BSB: barristers did not inform regulator of convictions promptly

A family law barrister who told his chambers that he was acting for a lay client pro bono, and then tried to hide the e-mail trail that proved the client had actually paid him more than £15,000, has been reprimanded and suspended.

Dominic Brazil, who was at 1 King’s Bench Walk, was suspended for 14 months by a Bar disciplinary tribunal last week [2] after being found guilty of four instances of misconduct.

The ruling said that Mr Brazil, who was called in 1995, was found to have “failed to act with honesty and integrity in that, on or about 15 November 2014, and in order to mislead or attempt to mislead his chambers, he deliberately deleted e-mails between himself and a lay client that evidenced several payments (totalling £16,500) from the lay client’s private bank account, and falsely claimed that he had acted for the lay client on a pro bono basis”.

He was paid this to attend a round table meeting on the lay client’s behalf and then represent them at Worthing County Court the following month. However, the tribunal said he did the work without being instructed by a solicitor or being properly qualified as a public access practitioner.

The third charge was that he “failed to act with honesty and integrity in that, on or about 17 November 2014, he knowingly misled or attempted to mislead his joint head of chambers about his representation of his lay client and about the payments which he had received directly from his lay client to represent him”.

The final charge was that he failed to act with honesty and integrity over a period of about six week by concealing from his clerks the fact that he was continuing to represent his lay client.

The decision remains open to appeal. Mr Brazil is no longer listed on the 1KBW website.

Among the other recent disciplinary decisions of the Bar tribunal were a reprimand and fine of £2,250 [3] for three findings against Dominic D’Souza of Goldsmith Chambers (called 1993): he failed to report to the Bar Standards Board “promptly” that in 2011 he was convicted of driving whilst disqualified; in 2012, he failed to comply with a court order to attend unpaid work, leading to another conviction and further community order of 240 hours; and that he did not co-operate properly with the BSB.

There was a reprimand and £500 fine [4] for James Mulholland (called 2008) after he accepted a caution for attempted possession of cocaine and then did not report it promptly to the Bar Standards Board.

William Byrne of Trinity Chambers in Newcastle was fined £3,500 [5] for being convicted of drink driving. He was called in 2006.

Peter Masniuk, who operates from his own chambers in Hertfordshire, practised as a barrister and carried out a reserved legal activity, namely the exercise of rights of audience, between 1 May and 4 August 2015 without a practising certificate. He was fined £500 and reprimanded [6].

The last three decisions are still open to appeal.