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James Counsell QC wins appeal for BSB against disbarred barrister


On 2 May 2017, Mrs Justice Lang DBE dismissed the appeal of Damian McCarthy from a decision made by the disciplinary tribunal, disbarring him after a finding that he had acted dishonestly by providing forged client care letters to the BSB after he had acted for a client in employment proceedings (see here for more on the hearing).

James Counsell QC acted for the BSB, on a pro bono basis, both at the four-day hearing and at the latest appeal but did not appear at earlier hearings.

The dismissal of Mr McCarthy’s appeal is the culmination of long-running proceedings brought against the former barrister arising out of his misconduct in 2008.  The previous Tribunal had disbarred him in 2011 before the Court of Appeal overturned that decision in 2015 and the case was remitted by the Visitors to a fresh tribunal in 2016.

The full judgment on the appeal can be found here.

Lang J dismissed the barrister’s appeal on all grounds.  The principal argument put forward on the Appellant’s behalf, was that there was a perception of bias because the Chairman, Her Honour Veronica Hammerton, had been the pupil of the Chairman of the previous tribunal.

The Court rejected any suggestion of or risk of bias, finding that the Chairman had disclosed the connection as soon as she became aware, from documents provided late by the Defence at the hearing, of the identity of the previous Chairman.

No objection had been taken at the time of that disclosure, when the Appellant had been represented by leading and junior counsel, and it was now too late to raise an objection, even if there had been a sufficiently close connection to merit such objection (which there was not).

Barristers: James Counsell QC
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