22 November 2013

Barrister to be disbarred for prejudicing the administration of justice

A public disciplinary tribunal has ordered the disbarment of a barrister for acting in a way that was prejudicial to the administration of justice, after he failed to comply with orders from a District Judge.

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) successfully brought disciplinary charges against John O'Callaghan after he failed to pay court administration fees in relation to a property disrepair dispute and the respondent's travel expenses, despite being ordered to do so by District Judge Goldberg.

The independent tribunal, which sat last week, also found Mr O'Callaghan had engaged in professional misconduct after he failed to respond promptly to letters sent to him by the BSB and which requested comments and information in relation to a complaint.

The Bar Standards Board's Head of Professional Conduct, Sara Down, said: "Barristers are at the very heart of our justice system and so it is only right that they act accordingly - with respect for the process of the courts. Mr O'Callaghan's conduct was repeatedly disrespectful and unprofessional, and it is in the public interest that he is no longer a member of the profession."

Previous charges of professional misconduct were found proved in October 2012, after a disciplinary tribunal found that Mr O'Callaghan had engaged in conduct which was likely to bring the legal profession into disrepute.

These charges were brought against Mr O'Callaghan after he sent letters to a person, with whom he was in dispute, headed "Barrister" and in which he threatened to commence proceedings against the respondent unless Mr O'Callaghan received payments of £4,700. Mr O'Callaghan was fined a total of £2,000.

The Council of the Inns of Court (COIC) is an independent body - separate to the BSB - which is responsible for appointing the Disciplinary Tribunal panels which adjudicate on disciplinary charges brought by the BSB for professional misconduct. Since February 2013, this function has been performed under COIC's auspices by the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service (BTAS).

More information is available on the BTAS website.



Notes to editors

A disciplinary tribunal can only order the disbarment of a barrister. The order can only be put into effect by the Inn of Court that called the barrister to the Bar.

John O'Callaghan was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, November 1988. He was an unregistered barrister, as he had not completed pupillage so was not entitled to offer or provide legal services as a barrister but could still use the title in limited circumstances.

Contact: the Bar Standards Board Press Office on 02076111452.