A barrister has been suspended for 18 months after he was found to have acted for a lay client without a valid practising certificate.
Andrew Veen, called to the bar in 1993, was punished at a disciplinary hearing after he was found to have failed to comply with the barrister code of conduct and to have brought the profession into disrepute.
Veen accepted instructions for his lay client in August 2012, despite not being properly authorised to do so between May that year and January 2013.
According to the bar’s disciplinary tribunal, he claimed £3,500 plus VAT for representing the client at a hearing at the Central London Country Court.
The tribunal said that Veen provided legal services for two weeks that August without a valid certificate by preparing for the hearing and drafting a list of issues and a skeleton argument ‘while holding himself out as a barrister to his lay clients and to others also instructed in the same matter by his lay clients and to his opponent barrister’.
The five-person disciplinary tribunal ruled that this was a ‘serious failure to comply’ with the bar’s code of conduct.
Veen was also found to have failed to comply with public access rules when representing his client in the case, by failing to notify them in writing about matters such as the work he had agreed to perform, his fees and the barristers’ complaints procedure.
The tribunal also found that Veen had engaged in conduct likely to ‘bring the legal profession into disrepute’ in respect of a bankruptcy order against him, including by failing to cooperate with his trustee and failing to provide information about his affairs, forcing his trustee to apply for a public examination.
He was sentenced to two periods of suspension totalling 18 months and one period of suspension for nine months to run concurrently. His sentence is open to appeal.