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The Apprentice: Lawyers round on ‘law firm’ owner who described himself as a ‘qualified barrister’

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Use of professional title called into question during TV show

Image via Twitter (@elliotve)

A contestant vying to be Lord Sugar’s business partner has drawn criticism from lawyers after he described himself as a barrister.

Nottingham University graduate Elliot Van Emden, appearing on the new series of hit BBC show The Apprentice, introduced himself to his fellow participants as a “qualified barrister” who owned a “law firm”. He also claimed to earn £175,000 a year, but said he wanted to earn far more.

Continuing, the 32-year-old explained how his firm assists landlords in removing “problem tenants”. A Companies House search shows Van Emden is registered with Bridgewood Legal Limited, a company that appears to trade under the name QuickEvictions.

Unfortunately, at least one lawyer took issue with Van Emden’s impressive introduction.

Taking to Twitter, housing law specialist and legal blogger Nearly Legal (aka Giles Peaker) suggested that The Apprentice star’s barrister claim was “naughty”:

At least one other lawyer appeared to agree:

Continuing to question Van Emden’s phraseology, Peaker drew Van Emden’s attention to Bar Standards Board (BSB) rules regarding the use of the term barrister.

However, Van Emdem — whose name draws a blank on the regulator’s ‘Barristers’ Register’ — has told Legal Cheek he completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and was called to the bar by Middle Temple in 2011. The BSB have confirmed this, however there is no record of Van Emdem having completed pupillage. The Apprentice contestant continued:

My occupation on published content shows as either ‘lawyer’ or ‘owner of legal firm’ — both of which are not restricted terms. Finally, any services my firm offers are unreserved activities. At no point in my work do I hold myself out as a barrister. I hope this clarifies the position.

So what’s the deal with using the term barrister? Well, a spokesperson for the BSB told us this:

Unregistered barristers are entitled to refer to themselves as barristers, but our rules prevent them from using that title in connection with offering or providing legal services.

This isn’t the first time the use of the term barrister has been called into question. Back in 2015, Legal Cheek reported that a spokesperson for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) was referring to himself as “barrister at law” despite having never completed pupillage.

Like today, the BSB told us at the time that Andrew Charalambous was free to use the title provided it was not in connection with the supply or offer of legal services.

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31 Comments

Comment lifted from the Guardian

The contestant Elliot Van Emden, apparently a barrister, claims to operate his own law firm and earning an income in excess of £180,000. This may come as a surprise to HMRC whose scrutiny of last year’s accounts submitted by this company, Emden being its sole director, officer and trader, would lead them to believe a more modest annual solvency of £27,000. The chap appears to have never been a member of any Chambers and his previous three directorships were as inconsequential as his current claims are bogus. Dishonesty seems to be theme in his family, his father, a qualified solicitor, was struck off for it. All there as a matter of public record if anyone cares to look.

JCG

This may well be true but the fact you use the wrong surname the whole way through may be why his name doesn’t come up! It’s Van Emden.

Anonymous

They have used the correct surname – see first line – simply shortening it to Emden following.

Anonymous

“Unregistered barristers are entitled to refer to themselves as barristers.”

So no story here then.

Anonymous

No. In the context of talking about a legal business and describing himself as a barrister, it is a breach of BSB rules and there corresponding consequences (at least there should be). It’s also more generally a big CV lie obviously. Like saying you’re a solicitor when you’ve just done the LPC and running a pro bono centre.

Anonymous

Except that completion of the LPC does NOT entitle one to call oneself a Solicitor, regardless of context.

Being called to the Bar does, apparently, entitle one to refer to oneself as a Barrister without more, so long as the context is sufficiently extra-legal.

That is basic reading comprehension for you – usually features in year 6 SATS, if I recall correctly.

Anonymous

A bit like Nicholas “de Lacy” Brown

Anonymous

i thought he had actually completed pupillage with an excellent set and was working as a barrister…..and also that a wall fell on him….

Anonymous

He did qualify at a good set and ended up as a government lawyer, if memory serves me correctly.

Anonymous

A lawyer without a client is not a lawyer.

Anonymous

False.

Anon

Hope you are not a practicing barrister. This statement is not logical?

Anonymous

I hope this tit gets to the interview stage.

Anonymous

oh boy do people never learn, claude is gonna roast him.

Anonymous

He won’t get that far

Wankington Bear

He is a qualified wanker.

Lincoln's Out

I think he should termed ‘Unregistered Barrister’ really. The BSB respond surprises me given their standalone guidance document for Unregistered Barristers…

Anonymous

What a turd.

Hence absolutely ideal for The Apprentice..(who still watches this shit ?)

Anonymous

Let’s face it, Lord Sugar will find him out in no time.

Anonymous

I do wish Lord Harley was on this.

Elephant123

So if you can cough up £19000 for the BPTC, you can call yourself a barrister. Sad.

Anonymous

But nobody else will

Anonymous

Is that news?

Anonymous

Not only did he call himself a barrister in the context of his business (getting tenants evicted) in the car scene, he was also referred to as a barrister by Lord Sugar. At best, hugely misleading and utterly unnecessary…

Anonymous

It’s a pity it’s just this that hits the news.

Nearly Legal is just as good at embarrassing bad landlords who think that their tenants are mere cash cows, who have to put up with rubbish habitation conditions.

As well as embarrassing the ‘my cousin Vinny’ lawyers who act for these bad landlords.

Anonymous

Hi Giles

Anonymous

Giles Peaker?

I’d take more offence at a high street ‘Housing’ practitioner having the right to call themselves a lawyer.

Swings and roundabouts.

Anonymous

You can’t even call yourself a qualified barrister even if you’ve completed pupillage and have practised for several years as an employed barrister with a practising certificate but suddenly find yourself between jobs. Which makes it difficult to get another job.

Anonymous

I don’t understand this comment. Why would someone in this position be unable to describe themselves as a barrister (or “qualified barrister”)?

Anonymous

He shouldn’t have held himself as a barrister (when in doubt, don’t is my rule of thumb). To be fair the rules are pretty opaque. By way of example, I can hold myself out as a barrister (Called, no pupillage, qualified solicitor with practising certificate) under the BSB’s rules “If you are practising as a person authorised by one of the other Approved Regulators, you may hold yourself out as a barrister in addition to your other qualification, provided that you comply with Rule s14. This Rule requires that, in these circumstances, if you hold yourself out as a barrister or a registered European lawyer, when supplying legal services to any person or employer for the first time, you must inform them clearly in writing at the earliest opportunity that you are not practising as a barrister or a registered European lawyer.”

Anonymous

He was not holding himself out as a barrister while providing legal services. He referred to himself as a barrister while taking part in a televised pantomime. Doubtless he wishes he was at that stellar set clerksroom or that doyen of international law firms Anthony Gold

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