Following a successful High Court appeal
A barrister who was slapped with a suspension after he repeated serious criminal allegations concerning another lawyer has had his sanction reduced following a successful High Court appeal. Reducing Forz Khan’s suspension from seven months to one of three months, Justice Warby said the disciplinary tribunal’s original penalty was “manifestly excessive”.
Earlier this year, Legal Cheek reported on how family and criminal law specialist Khan had been suspended from practice after he mouthed off about another lawyer in the robing room of two crown courts.
The Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service (TBAS) judgment revealed that Khan had repeated “allegations of rape, assault and conspiracy to murder” against a fellow member of the bar in both Stafford Crown Court and Birmingham Crown Court. It is also said that the Queen Mary law grad contacted the male barrister’s wife, a solicitor, via LinkedIn and made reference to the allegations.
Fast forward several months and Khan has had his suspension reduced.
According to a High Court judgment released this month, Khan argued that he had been hit with a severe professional disciplinary sanction for behaviour that amounted to no more than “robing room gossip” or “barrister tittle-tattle”.
At the original hearing, Khan admitted three charges of professional misconduct but argued on appeal “that although the relevant facts were not in dispute, and he pleaded guilty, his admitted behaviour did not amount to professional misconduct in law.”
Warby found that a suspension was appropriate, however, the “tribunal fell into error in at least four ways, the combination of which led to a penalty that was well beyond what was proportionate.” Describing the suspension as “manifestly excessive”, he added:
“In my judgment, the appropriate global starting point for all three charges, after consideration of aggravating features and applying the principle of totality, could not have exceeded five months’ suspension”
After due allowance for mitigation, and an appropriate discount for Khan’s early admissions, Warby reduced the seven-month suspension to one of three months. Turning to Khan’s appeal against conviction, Warby said there was no reason to set aside his guilty pleas. He continued:
“There is no probability that a re-hearing following a not guilty plea would lead to a different conclusion. The Tribunal was entitled, indeed right, to conclude that the admitted misconduct in this case was serious. It comfortably crossed the threshold of gravity which the authorities show must be exceeded before behaviour can be characterised as professional misconduct.”