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TV barrister disbarred for failing to pay school fees

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Sophia Cannon also accused of ‘misleading the court’ by disciplinary tribunal

A former barrister and TV talking head has been disbarred for a series of indiscretions that included failing to follow a court order to pay school fees.

Sophia Cannon was also found in breach of bar disciplinary rules for “misleading the court” on two occasions in 2014 and 2015, and for repeatedly making court applications that were totally without merit.

A Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) panel found that Cannon’s actions were “likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession”, and some “could reasonably be seen by the public to undermine her honesty and integrity”.

Cannon, who practised at the now defunct Tooks Chambers, is now a writer and broadcaster. According to a LinkedIn profile, she has appeared on various ITV and BBC programmes and in various national newspapers to share her “self assured opinions on political and social justice issues”.

She will now be unable to return to the profession unless she can appeal the tribunal’s decision.

A summary of the case posted on the BTAS website says that Cannon failed to comply with several court orders made by a district judge in late 2014 and early 2015. Among the charges was that she “failed to pay the balance of the fund for school fees to the respondent’s solicitors by the 12 September 2014 pursuant to the agreement recited in the order dated 2 September 2014”. The tribunal listed seven other breaches of court orders connected to this litigation over school fees, including failing to pay the other side’s costs by a given date.

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The tribunal also referred to Cannon “misleading the court” on 16 August 2014, and separately on 16 June 2015. The first time, she told the court that the other side had been served with a certain document “when she knew that they had not been so served”. The second time, she said that a High Court hearing was coming up on a given date “which statement she knew or ought to have known was untrue”.

Finally, the panel listed a variety of infractions during family law proceedings in which Cannon was acting as a litigant in person (i.e. representing herself). These included several court applications deemed totally without merit, one of which was “incoherent and made no sense”. In December 2016, she was placed under a limited civil restraint order stopping her from making any further applications without permission from a judge.

It is not clear from the summary whether the various incidents all relate to the same litigation. Cannon has been approached for comment.

Commenting on the order to disbar, a Bar Standards Board (BSB) spokesperson said:

“The tribunal’s decision acts as a reminder to all barristers that their actions in personal legal proceedings can impact on the public’s confidence in all barristers and amount to professional misconduct. The serious impact of Ms Cannon’s actions is reflected in the decision to order her disbarment”.

Cannon’s profile at her literary agency says that “having qualified and practised as a barrister, working mostly in the area of family law, more recently Sophia has chosen to focus on writing and broadcast work”.

The disbarment decision is open to appeal.

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19 Comments

Anonymous

Nothing better than a social justice warrior sending their kids to a private school. Double standards, got to love them.

(58)(6)

Anonymous

Should have married a certain Jolyon instead…

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Thanks LC for defining litigant in person.

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Total wrong’un

(5)(3)

Anon

So’s your mum

(1)(1)

Elephant in the courtroom

Astonishing how this calls for a disbarment but other battisters have been caught taking and selling drugs, picking up prostitutes, drink driving and other criminal acts with only a slap on the wrist.

(31)(2)

Scep Tick

Might want to look at pictures of those concerned…

(8)(2)

A Non

Sorry, but get a grip victimboy. The issues here went directly to conduct in Court and the ability of the Court to accept the accuracy of statements by counsel. Much more deserving of heavy punishment than extracurricular indiscretions.

(26)(3)

Anonymous

Yawns, scratches backside and mutters “dragging up that again” before continuing with my Nigel Farage jigsaw.

(0)(0)

Anon

Not a complainant: a victim. Lester was found to have harassed her and abused his position by offering her sex in exchange for a peerage. And yet he was not sanctioned by the BSB.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

The general legal principle is that a person should not (normally) be punished twice/more than once by more than one body at different times for the same past offence, especially if it concerns a person’s general personal (rather than professional) behaviour (and otherwise irrelevant to his or her ability to do his or her job professionally), unless e.g. it involves a conviction for a great, violent or otherwise serious crime, and which results in a immediate custodial sentence longer than a year/can never become ‘spent’.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Dear me… clearly, you were still at Primary School outside of this country when there were still red phone boxes in Central London 15-20 years ago…

(0)(0)

Anon

Who pays school fees out of earnings these days? Seems virtually everyone now relied on grandparents/family trusts to cover it, then you pay in turn come 30 years’ time.

(9)(0)

Anon

You pay out of income. The alternative is to consign your children to the dustbin of the state education system, which no responsible parent would ever do.

(22)(8)

Anonymous

Income? Very social climber rather than old school class.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

It’s different at new money schools. Apparently.

(0)(0)

Derek Haslam

I had a few run ins with her on social meejah, she is a plod shill.

(2)(3)

Anonymous

I acted for a client against this woman in a contractual dispute. None of this surprises me save that it took her this long to be disbarred.

(5)(3)

Anonymous

‘Open to appeal’ means ‘can appeal’ (without having to go to the High Court directly instead, with no guarantee that permission would be granted)… only if she were to ‘SUCCESSFULLY appeal’ could she (if she then actually want to) then return/re-enter the legal profession (as a barrister/solicitor).

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.

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