Cardiff-based barrister David Leathley, who spent almost £50,000 unsuccessfully fighting claims he posed as Joel Bennathan QC, has slammed the Bar Standards Board (BSB) after he was fined £600 for working without a valid practising certificate.
The two cases are unrelated, with Leathley, who escaped a ban for impersonating Bennathan in a dispute that was far from black-and-white, lacking a practising certificate because of a simple delay in obtaining a replacement.
Speaking to Legal Cheek yesterday, Leathley said the delay was caused by administration issues arising from the fact that he applied to be registered in the dual capacity of employed barrister and independent practitioner.
Leathley suggested that, having paid his practising certificate fee up to the April commencement date, “it should have been backdated”, before adding:
“I am surprised to have received this slap on the wrist from an out-of-control Bar Standards Board which is not answerable to anyone.”
Leathley also remarked on the irony of being penalised for a time limit breach by the BSB when, earlier this year, some of its tribunal members had been found to have sat in judgment when they themselves had been “time-expired”.
A BSB spokesperson said: “It’s a serious issue to work without a practising certificate. Certainly, it’s in the public interest to take action in these circumstances.”
Since Leathley’s unsuccessful appeal of the BSB’s QC impersonation verdict in January, the body has been on the receiving end of some stinging criticism for the way it conducts its disciplinary procedures.
Over the summer, Marc Beaumont, the barrister who acted for Leathley in the impersonation case, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that he doesn’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that “the [Bar disciplinary] system appears to be in a state of collapse,” and he believes it “is a matter of gross embarrassment for barristers that there system… is in such shambolic state.”