The public access barrister publicly named by the Legal Ombudsman because of a high volume of complaints said today he will appeal the bar disciplinary board’s findings against him.
Tariq Rehman, joint head of Kings Court Chambers, Birmingham, which specialises in immigration law, was found guilty by the Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service of 11 misconduct offences.
A five-person panel said he had ‘failed to administer his chambers efficiently’ and to have acted in a way that was ‘discreditable to a barrister’ in relation to his public access work.
Rehman was found to have engaged in ‘conduct discreditable to a barrister’ after he agreed to the use of scripts by employees or agents at Global Immigration Consultants in phone conversations with prospective clients, quoting a fee which included an extra £100 sum to pay to the consultants.
He was also found to have ‘failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that his chambers were administered competently and efficiently’, after he allowed staff to accept public access cases on his behalf by sending out a client care letter ‘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’.
Four of the other offences he was found guilty of related to the handling of complaints, when members of staff on four separate occasions did not acknowledge the complaint, name the person who would be dealing with the complaint, provide a copy of the chambers’ complaint procedure or a date when the complainant would next hear from the chambers.
Another three offences related to a lack of written information given to clients, in two instances about their fees, and one about what work Rehman had agreed to perform.
Rehman said today: ‘We adopted a different model that nobody else was using. The Bar Council, rather than assisting and acknowledging that barristers have to change the way they operate, came in with a heavy hand.’
Ian MacDonald QC, who was joint head of chambers at Kings Court between 15 May 2012 and 17 December 2012, was also found guilty of three offences related to public access cases.
The offences related to the lack of fee information, failure to administer chambers ‘competently and efficiently’ when handling complaints and for allowing Rehman to accept public access cases before the Kings Court Chambers system had officially allocated a member of chambers to deal with the case.
Each failure was described as ‘serious’, but the tribunal decided that no further action should be taken against MacDonald.
The sentence for Rehman has been deferred until two appeals against separate findings have been heard and the judgment is open to appeal.