An unqualified barrister has been disbarred after being convicted of fraudulently representing clients in court.

Richard Michael Hayes was called to the bar in 2008 but did not complete a pupillage. He did not hold a practising certificate and was not entitled to hold himself out as a barrister in connection with the supply of legal services.

Hayes had set up what was described as a ‘boutique barristers’ practice with another unregistered barrister, David John Abbott, who was disbarred in 2011.

Hayes was convicted on one count of fraud by the Crown Court in Lewes, after he accepted instructions to act for clients in court proceedings relating to their child, who had special education needs. 

Hayes was ordered to do 250 hours of community service for giving the impression that he was entitled to act as a barrister.

Abbott was jailed for two years and three months for seven counts of fraud after charging the parents of children with special education needs but failing to appear in court.

The bar disciplinary tribunal disbarred Hayes after it found that his conduct was ‘likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession’.

A BSB spokesperson said Hayes’ conduct was incompatible with being called a barrister.

When the pair were sentenced in April this year, Detective Constable Brad Lozynski of Brighton CID said: 'Abbott and Hayes exploited vulnerable and trusting families, who had simply searched the internet for specialist legal advice.

'They gave every appearance of being genuine, but at the last minute failed to attend court, leaving the victims high and dry with no valid legal advice, and having incurred considerable expense.’