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Barrister who pinched nightclub-goer’s purse loses High Court appeal against suspension

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Juliana Dorairaj was not prosecuted, but was made the subject of a community resolution order

The High Court has upheld the year-long suspension of a barrister who was caught stealing a purse in a nightclub.

Juliana Dorairaj, a non-practising barrister, was arrested at a Cardiff club after being captured on CCTV picking up another customer’s unattended purse and placing it in her pocket before attempting to leave the premises. Dorairaj — who was called to the bar in 2011 — was never prosecuted but was given a community resolution order, having accepted responsibility for the offence.

Dorairaj was later handed a 12-month suspension and fined £3,000 following a hearing before a five-person panel of the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS).

In a bid to have her suspension overturned, Dorairaj argued that the Bar Standards Board’s (BSB) professional conduct committee did not have the power to direct cases concerning unregistered barristers to be heard by five-person tribunals. As a result of what she believed to be a procedural error, she claimed the panel “had no jurisdiction” to hear her case and that the original decision was therefore “null and void”.

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The High Court didn’t agree. Despite the BSB admitting a “procedural irregularity”, Lord Justice Hickinbottom said a breach of the rules on the constitution of a disciplinary panel did not automatically mean that a panel lacked jurisdiction. He continued:

“Of course, if the breach is material such that unfairness has resulted, then it might form a ground for an appeal; but that is a different issue from jurisdiction which is the primary issue raised in this appeal.”

Dorairaj also claimed that the five-person panel increased her anxiety because it had the power to disbar. Again this was rejected Hickinbottom LJ:

“I do not consider there is any force in that argument. If the Appellant’s [Dorairaj] charge had been referred to a three-person panel as it should have been, and she had been found guilty of it, then it was all but inevitable that it would have been referred to a five-person panel for sentence given the guidance starting point and the circumstances of the case. The Appellant [Dorairaj] would have been aware of that likelihood from the outset; and her anxiety would have been extended by the inevitable delay that would have been caused by that transfer.”

The decision was upheld.

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45 Comments

Anonymous

Top counsel.

(9)(0)

“Must get my eyes tested”

I mis-read this initially.

I read:

“Barrister who pinched nightclub-goer’s arse loses High Court appeal against suspension”

Lesson to students: always read your exam papers at least twice before answering the question!

(30)(0)

Anonymous

No! Such a Barrister would have been prosecuted, possibly have received a custodial sentence, put on the sex offenders register for 5 years and faced no disciplinary action whatsoever from the BSB.

(8)(3)

not named

I too read arse.

Be careful what you wish for.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Good.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(20)(0)

Anonymous

It was just banter!

(1)(0)

Anon

Jesus Christ. As any fool no, take the contents of the purse, not the purse itself….

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Career over.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(23)(0)

Anonymous

Why on earth does she care about being disbarred if she’s non practicing? The whole appeal just seems like a waste of money.

(14)(1)

Anonymous

Agree. Thought there was a period where the Bar course becomes stale if you haven’t obtained pupillage.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

There is, 5 years from date of completion.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

This was a cunning ploy to gain relevant legal experience that would have the effect of extending the BPTC 5 years and preventing it going stale.

(6)(0)

Anonymous

Thanks. So if her qualification was already stale at the time of the second hearing and therefore no prospects of practicing at the Bar then what was the point aside from maybe recovering the imposed fine?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

You can apply for an extension to the 5 years.

There will also probably be some funky inns of court related reason.

Anonymous

But what were the costs?

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The SRA would have helped themselves to four figures for this!

(21)(0)

Boh Dear

Hahaha amazing. Underrated comment of the thread.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

“Underrated comment of the thread” is such a sad honour…

(2)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

Why is everyone so mean to Alex?

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Why wouldn’t you be?

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Hi Alex

(1)(2)

Fagin

No no no no,
Step 1 start fracas with mate.
Step 2 wrestle over the table containing the prize.
Step 3 trouser the prize
Step 4 be led meekly away by bouncers
Step 5 exit venue
Step 6 go to anothe venue
Step 7 spend spend spend.
Step 8 repeat

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Were you the chap I dealt with at Lavender Hill mags last week? Uncanny MO,

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Seems like the principles in Barton v Wright Hassall apply in some cases but not in others.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Am I alone in thinking this is an outrageously light sentence? Stealing a purse? I mean ffs! The SDT would have struck her from the Roll and charged her a tonne of costs. It is an affront to the profession not to disbar.

(22)(2)

Anonymous

I like eggs

(2)(1)

Anonymous

The more she appeal the more search results on Google for this

(5)(0)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

She should have qualified and joined chambers then she could have stolen hundreds of thousands legally.

(3)(9)

Anonymous

It’s no wonder she never made it to pupillage if she didn’t even have the brains to claim that it was picked up and taken by mistake when questioned by the police over the incident.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Never yet met a practising Barrister who admits anything against their own self-interests. No matter how obvious the facts against them are.

(2)(3)

not named

“Stolen” … “legally”

Hmmmm not sure that can work.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

It can work, if you account for a difference between moral theft and legal theft.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Her counsel had some brilliant submissions to make:

“I was unimpressed by Mr Beaumont’s submission that a suspension of less than 12 months may be more severe that a suspension of more than 12 months.”

(3)(0)

Anonymous

So being allowed to practise law is a form of punishment?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Everybody, with more than 2 years’ experience, knows it is.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Remember the SPB partner who stole money from a client account to go skiing. Made me lol. Lolibobs.

(1)(0)

Lord Harley of Counsel

I have been to Cardiff. Twice.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

I think I remember reading something about one of your visits there. Isn’t that where you were awarded the VC?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

No, that was when I was made up to the Privy Arbital Court. Cretin.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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