A public access barrister named this week as a risk to the public has made an impassioned defence of his professional record.
Tariq Rehman, in a statement released jointly with Kingscourt Chambers, Birmingham, said the legal ombudsman had paid no attention to his client satisfaction rate and gave a misleading picture of his complaints record.
The Office for Legal Complaints said Rehman had been subject to 25 complaints in two years and took the unprecedented step of naming him to ‘prevent harm to consumers’.
Rehman, who specialises in public access work in UK and European immigration law, nationality and asylum law, said his chambers deals with around 300 clients a month and has a 97% satisfaction rate.
He explained the chambers had taken the decision to adopt a new model and sought to attract large volumes of work through the direct access scheme.
‘Kingscourt was compelled to look at innovative ways in which to operate differently to gain the flexibility that would allow it to service clients in a different environment,’ he said.
‘The legal ombudsman’s press release is misleading, taken totally out of context and is not an accurate reflection of the nature of the complaints.’
Rehman said the ombudsman has not contacted any satisfied clients to get feedback or comments from them.
His chambers also said it was unfair to target the barrister personally as most of the complaints that have been made have been due to mistakes by administrative staff.
The statement added: ‘The ombudsman’s press release, while failing to put both sides of the story, is nothing more than an attempt to prevent an attempt by non-establishment chambers to compete in a new and very different market.’
Rehman suggested he may have been ‘specifically targeted’ on account of his race and that other lawyers, for example advisers to the banking sector during its recent scandals, were not vilified in the same way.
He added that many lawyers from minority ethnic groups feel they cannot highlight their grievances about discrimination by legal regulators for fear of repercussions.
Steve Green, chair of the OLC board, said the publication of public interest cases was a serious matter because of the impact on reputation, but in this case the lawyer had to be named to prevent harm to consumers.
‘His standards of service, often during crucial immigration cases, are consistently poor; requiring ombudsman intervention time after time,’ said Green in the statement. ‘He is a risk to any potential new clients and we want to exercise our powers now to make sure people are aware of the risks before instructing him to work for them in future.’