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Bar student from failed judicial review advertises himself as an ‘employment lawyer’

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Exclusive: Religious minister and former car-worker-turned BPTC student caught up in ongoing row over barrister title

Lawyer

A mature bar student who last week lost a landmark judicial review has been advertising legal services despite not having completed vocational training and not being called.

A High Court judge in Birmingham told 48-year-old Steven Prescott — a religious minister and former British Leyland worker — that he would have to re-sit his entire Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at the University of Law after failing just one module at its Birmingham branch.

Legal Cheek has since discovered that a Steve Prescott from Birmingham is listed on the PeoplePerHour professional and trade services website.

Steve

On that site, Prescott is described as an “employment lawyer (HR consultant) UK”. His entry goes on to say:

I am trained as a barrister and specialise in the area of employment law for both claimants and respondents and HR consultancy for employers.

Bar regulators have come under increasing criticism for not clarifying the rules around who is eligible to describe themselves as barristers. There have been several recent high profile cases — involving a former Surrey local councillor, a UKIP politician and a non-practising barrister television talking head — that have pushed the issue up the agenda.

Currently, anyone who successfully completes the BPTC can be called to the bar and promote themselves as barristers or barristers at law. However, those who have not completed a pupillage stint are not allowed to describe themselves as such in connection with the provision of legal services.

And indeed, those who have not completed the BPTC are prohibited from applying to themselves the barrister title.

Nonetheless, Prescott’s services are described in what could arguably be seen as falling just short of suggesting he is fully qualified.

According to his website entry, Prescott has “a strong client centred & pastoral approach to my work. It is my job to use my relationship skills to represent your interests …”

Ironically, because Prescott has not been called to the bar, he falls outside the remit of the Bar Standards Board.

Nonetheless, the Legal Services Act 2007 created the criminal offence of wilfully pretending to be a barrister or of taking or using any title or description with the intention of implying falsely that a person is a barrister. Those suspected of being in breach of the legislation can be referred to the police.

Prescott’s website entry references could be open to differing interpretations. If a complaint were made, it would for the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and ultimately a court to determine whether the words amounted to the criminal criteria being met.

Legal Cheek attempted to contact Prescott through his lawyer, James Dixon, a 14-year-call education law specialist barrister at Birmingham-based No5 Chambers.

Prescott instructed Dixon in his recent judicial review challenge through the direct access scheme, which allows the public to obviate solicitors and approach the bar directly. However, Dixon did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

And the contact button on Prescott’s web entry was not functioning. Nor did he respond to our attempt to contact him through LinkedIn.

Previously:

Bar student forced to re-sit entire BPTC after failing just one module [Legal Cheek]

23 Comments

Knob Amused

Lord Harley Mark 2.

Another faker.

(10)(3)

Anon

This article falls dangerously close to being a libel. (its also a interesting and relevant article)

(12)(11)

The_Bounder

Rubbish

(10)(0)

Not Amused

Private Eye is regularly sued. I still think its role is invaluable.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

In what way is it “dangerously close” to being libelous?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

The full webpage suggests he is doing litigation. I thought that was a reserved activity?

(2)(0)

Kuzka's Mother

The issue is probably something the BSB will have to deal with eventually… it will start to harm the name of the profession. People won’t know if they’re getting advice from a barrister or a “barrister”.

(1)(0)

MC

“Start” to harm the name of the profession!?! Holy smokes – we are WELL past that point!

(1)(0)

Satin Cut

Good for him.

There’s a case for qualified lawyers to automatically qualify as accountants. Accountants ultimately just apply the law with numbers.

(0)(14)

Anonymous

He was on my course, very smug and arrogant, thought he was the bees knees.

Don’t be arrogant, or you’ll have to face this day like he has.

(26)(1)

Anonymous

Anon, we were on a course together! Let’s be friends. Did you beat him in a moot by any chance?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Hope somebody’s complained to the police!

(0)(1)

Anonymous

This is ridiculous. Just change the rules so that people can only call themselves barristers if they have completed pupillage and are currently practising as one. There! Simple! Problem solved!

Of course, such a change would highlight the uselessness of the BPTC as a course unless you ultimately get pupillage afterwards.

To which I say, good! With far too many people currently trying to go down this road, I think a little injection of reality would be very helpful!

(11)(1)

Knob Amused

£45 an hour for a wanabee barrister is steep.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

“I am trained as a barrister…”

No you’re not. You failed the training!

(12)(2)

Harry

He’s trained as a barrister in the same way I am trained at clay pigeon shooting (i.e. I understand how it’s done, I just don’t have the competence to do it).

Even if the precise form of words is technically accurate in an ultra-pedantic sense, it still clearly gives the impression that he is qualified, which (unluckily or not) he is not. I guess he can quite legitimately call himself a lawyer, though.

(3)(5)

Anonymous

Describing himself as “trained” is not correct, even in the pedantic sense.

Training, by definition, is “the process of bringing a person to an agreed standard of proficiency” (Collins New English dictionary.)

Prescott has not “reached the agreed standard of proficiency”, because he failed the BPTC.

Thus, he is not “trained”.

(10)(0)

Anony mouse

As his barrister Dixon won’t be instructed to comment on his client advertising himself as a barrister so it seems a little ridiculous to criticise him for not replying to your requests

(9)(0)

Anonymous

Agreed, his barrister will just ask his clerk to note the request to his client. No slight on the barrister. Stupid Legal Cheek.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Clearly few people here have been involved in the employment tribunal.

In short, nearly anybody can hold themself out as an employment advocate. Many still take advantage of people by offering a damages based agreement. Typically these are 20-25% of damages if the case settles, up to 33% if it goes through full tribunal and settles. Numerous ’employment law consultants’ operate on such a basis.

They normally draft the ET1, send letter based applications and argue in the tribunal hearing. It’s a McKenzie friend on stilts.

(4)(1)

Shirley

Welcome to Britain, where anybody can claim they’re anything with impunity.

He can run around calling himself Mistress of the Rolls if he likes, but I’ll be regulated to the nth degree by a quangocrat.

Why did we get qualified, again?

(1)(0)

A. Nonny-Mouse

BSB not fit for purpose?

(0)(0)

Ap

Recently saw someone describe themselves as a “qualified non-practicing barrister” on a LinkedIn page. Adds a new level to the delusion that they’re a qualified barrister. Nuts.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.