Two barristers disbarred for dishonest handling of tax affairs

VAT: Barrister invoiced for VAT but was not registered for it

Two experienced barristers found to have behaved dishonestly in how they managed their tax affairs – with one receiving a suspended jail sentence – have been disbarred.

The decisions of Bar disciplinary tribunals of Farzana Akram and Lewis Robert Tresman were unrelated to each other.

Ms Akram, called in 1998, fraudulently evaded income tax, VAT and National Insurance covering the period from April 2007 to March 2017.

She pleaded guilty to these charges and was convicted in March 2022, and sentenced in June 2022 to a two-year suspended prison sentence, and was made subject to a curfew order and to electronic monitoring for a period of eight months.

She also failed to report her conviction to the Bar Standards Board.

Meanwhile, between June 2007 and February 2023, Mr Tresman knowingly allowed his chambers, Staple Inn Chambers, to invoice his professional fees with added VAT despite knowing that he was not registered for VAT at the time.

As a result, the Legal Aid Agency paid an extra £150,000 and private clients £18,000 to the barrister, who was called in 1980.

A BSB spokesman said: “Ms Akram engaged in fraudulent and dishonest behaviour and also subsequently failed to report her criminal conviction to her regulator. The tribunal’s decision to disbar Ms Akram reflects the seriousness of her behaviour.”

Mr Tresman, he added, “plainly benefited financially by dishonestly taking other people’s money over many years. The tribunal’s decision to disbar him rightly demonstrates that such conduct is manifestly incompatible with the high standards expected of the Bar”.

Both tribunal decisions are currently open to appeal.

    Readers Comments

  • Donald MacLeod says:

    The tribunal decision to disbar is quite right. Dishonesty in any way, shape or form undermines all barristers who try to conduct their business with absolute integrity, and when it comes to protracted dishonesty in relation to large sums pf money, imprisonment should follow.

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