Rookie error doesn’t have to cost barrister his career

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By Anuja Venkataramani on

6

Bar disciplinary shows mercy


A barrister who, as a fresh graduate, told his manager and supervising solicitor that he had made court applications for success fee deductions which had been rejected by the court, while knowing he had not made such an application, has been reprimanded for his actions.

The misconduct occurred on one or more occasions between December 2019 and June 2020, shortly after Jasraj Singh Sanghera had been called to the Bar. At the time, he was working as an advocate for LPC Law while awaiting pupillage, having passed the Bar training course. Many of LPC Law’s agents start appearing for hearings when they are in a similar stage of their career.

Sanghera admitted that on “at least a couple of occasions” he submitted attendance notes falsely stating that he had made an application for a success fee which the court had not approved, when in fact, he had not made such an application. He went on to say that the reason for this was that he was aware of experienced judges criticising solicitors for seeking success fee deductions from the damages payable to children. Believing the application to likely be refused and feeling intimated by this prospect, Sanghera went on to mislead those who instructed him.

The tribunal was sympathetic to the fact that Sanghera had disclosed his actions to professional colleagues at the outset, explained the reasons for these and expressed regret. It also acknowledged that his actions were borne of a lack of experience and guidance and the level of harm caused was low. His misconduct did not result in the solicitors not being able to recover success fees entirely, but only deprived them of a chance to do so. Moreover, there has been no subsequent misconduct and Sanghera now practises as a barrister in London, as a “well-regarded member of the profession”.

In light of the above, the tribunal concluded that a reprimand, rather than disbarment, was sufficient to maintain public trust and confidence in the profession. Sanghera was also ordered to pay costs of £2,670.

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6 Comments

Alex

Mixed views on this. We’ve all been there, and judicial bullying is definitely affecting the ability of new advocates; however, the without fear bit of advocacy is so important.

LPC too, has a funny culture, which I doubt puts a premium on supervision and mentoring.

Ultimately, though, he ought to have been disbarred. There are plenty of people who don’t lack integrity who could take his place.

Bizarre

I think we can reasonably ask the question: how the hell did he get pupillage, let alone tenancy, with this going on behind the scenes?

Anon

What would the position had Mr Sanghera not had his call ceremony (and thus not a barrister) at the time he was working for LPC Law? Seems to be something of a regulatory lacuna? Would it fall within the scope of the SRA as a non-authorised individual?

Alex

He could still have been disciplined by his Inn.

Anon

Yes it would. The SDT could make an order under s.43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, under which it has wide powers in respect of “a person who is or was involved in a legal practice but is not a solicitor”

The SDT regularly makes orders under s.43, usually when a paralegal misbehaves, to prevent them from working in the profession and solicitors from engaging them.

SourLemon

Yet again, if this was an NQ solicitor, disbarment would be inevitable. There is something fundamentally flawed with how our regulators and tribunals view such cases. Barristers are unequivocally favoured in all decisions as if there’s a shortage of those wanting to qualify all whilst solicitors are easily dismissed left and right.

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