The bar’s disciplinary tribunal has suspended two barristers; one for failing to warn their client over potential adverse outcomes of pursuing a case and another for acting as an advocate while unregistered.
Mark Smith and Ehi Ukiwa have been suspended for one and six months respectively, according to findings published by the Bar Tribunal & Adjudication Service (BTAS) this week.
Ukiwa acted for a party in a case referred to as the Olaifa Proceedings in the Rolls Building of the High Court despite the fact he was only 11 days into his pupillage at the time. According to the finding, Ukiwa had initially said he acted as a ‘McKenzie friend’ and did not expect to be paid but the Bar Standards Board had subsequently produced evidence that Ukiwa had expected to be paid.
Ukiwa, who chose the CILEX route to qualification after intially struggling to find pupillage, said he believed the alternative route gave him the right to appear at interim hearings. However, the BTAS did not accept this.
Meanwhile Mark Smith, acting on a public access basis in a business dispute, was suspended for his failure to give advice to his client – even if that advice would be unwelcome.
Smith’s client, referred to as ‘MBS’, had various complaints about his former business partner, including that money was fraudulently withheld. MBS asked Smith to help him bring a private criminal prosecution.
After the prosecution was discontinued a district judge imposed a £40,000 costs order.
Smith failed to advise MBS that if a case was not in the public interest, the CPS would take over the prosecution and discontinue proceedings and that if there was no prospect of success a costs order could be made against them.
The BTAS said: ‘As with any advice to client, a competent barrister should have given advice about the potential adverse consequences of a particular course of conduct, but Smith failed to do so.’ It added that a barrister should be prepared to give ‘robust and potentially unwelcome’ advice to clients who need reining in.
Smith, called to the bar in 1997, was suspended for one month.
* We have been asked to clarify that Mark Smith has no connection with the Mark Smith of Exchange Chambers based in the north of England.