A barrister who was suspended after failing to reimburse a client has successfully appealed his sanction. Henry Hendron relied on the fact he had already been suspended by the regulator for supplying ‘chemsex’ drugs before any question of repayment arose.
Hendron, called to the bar in 2006, was suspended for three months in August 2019 after failing to comply with an order from the legal ombudsman to reimburse a client £650 and to pay £200 in compensation. Hendron had acted for the client on a direct access basis but had been unable to represent her at the hearing.
The reason Hendron could not cover the hearing was because he had been suspended three days earlier for supplying his boyfriend with ‘chemsex’ drugs that led to his death. The suspension lasted for three years and was lifted on 17 May 2019.
In Hendron v BSB, Mr Justice Fordham said the Bar Standards Board ‘accepted that, because Mr Hendron was at the material times already suspended in relation to an earlier matter, the ombudsman had no power to make the direction and the BSB no power to discipline Mr Hendron for non-compliance with it’.
However, the BSB sought to reformulate a fresh charge and asked the High Court to remit the case. Fordham J refused to do this, stating: ‘Having regard to all the circumstances, and all the considerations relevant to the evaluation, I am satisfied that it is inappropriate in the circumstances – as they now are – to remit this case to go back to the drawing board, for further consideration, with the prospect of further reconsideration, a newly formulated and substantially refocused charge, and a third referral, for yet another hearing in front of yet another disciplinary tribunal.
The judge stressed that Hendron had been under an ‘inhibiting shadow’ for eight months and the 'legally unsustainable' findings had had a 'real, detrimental impact'.