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.