Ex-Clifford Chance trainee suing Oxford Uni for £1 million claims ‘inadequate’ teaching stopped him becoming top tax barrister

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By Thomas Connelly on

Low 2:1 was ‘huge disappointment’, High Court hears

Brasenose College, University of Oxford

A University of Oxford graduate’s failure to secure a first class degree cost him a lucrative career as a tax barrister, the High Court has heard.

Faiz Siddiqui, who studied modern history at the prestigious university’s Brasenose College (pictured top), claims that the “inadequate” teaching on one of the course’s modules resulted in him achieving a low 2:1 instead of a high 2:1 or a first.

The 39-year-old alleges that a number of members of staff in Oxford’s Asian history department were absent or on sabbatical leave and adequate teaching cover was not provided. He also claims that a tutor failed to file medical information about him to examiners.

But despite claiming loss of earnings of at least £1 million against the university, Legal Cheek revealed last year that Siddiqui’s legal career got off to a very strong start. We confirmed that the Oxford grad landed a highly sought after training contract at magic circle titan Clifford Chance.

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Yesterday, Siddiqui’s barrister, 4 New Square‘s Roger Mallalieu, told the court that his client was a “driven young man” who had ambitions of becoming a high-flying tax barrister or solicitor at a top US firm, according to The Guardian. Mallalieu said:

“Whilst a 2:1 degree from Oxford might rightly seem like a tremendous achievement to most, it fell significantly short of Mr Siddiqui’s expectations and was, to him, a huge disappointment.”

After leaving Clifford Chance, Legal Cheek understands that Siddiqui went on to work in the tax departments of a number of law firms and completed his masters in taxation at London’s Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Mallalieu continued:

“He and others became the victims of poor teaching provision by the university in what was anticipated to be his favoured special subject, and he, uniquely among his peers, was further disadvantaged by his personal tutor not conveying his knowledge of his illnesses to those responsible for making reasonable adjustments and for moderating his examinations.”

Siddiqui, who graduated in June 2000, also argues that his clinical depression and insomnia have been significantly exacerbated by his “inexplicable failure”. Mallalieu told Legal Cheek:

“I imagine my client will be giving evidence for the first couple of days following openings tomorrow and then the other witnesses thereafter, with closing speeches Tuesday or Wednesday next week and judgment probably reserved.”

Oxford Uni’s barrister, 11KBW‘s Julian Milford, told the court that Siddiqui had complained about the lack of resources but said that he had not noticed anything wrong with the quality of the teaching provided except it was a “a little bit dull”. The university denies negligence and causation and says Siddiqui’s claim is time barred.

The hearing is scheduled to last seven days and is concerned only with liability. If successful, Siddiqui’s damages will be assessed at a later date.

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