By Gabriel Princewill-
The Solicitors Regulation Authority(SRA) and the Uk Bar Council have been tackled for appearing to be protecting guilty legal professionals from shame. Both regulatory bodies do not release full details of barristers who have been found guilty of misconduct . The Eye Of Media.Com have noticed that details of offending barristers released by either the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Bar Council- two regulatory bodies that ought to be a leading light in terms of professional standards of operation.
The SRA and the Bar Council currently reveal the year the barrister joined the bar, but do not reveal the photograph or the age of the barrister in question. This means other barristers bearing the precise name and surname of a barrister exposed for an offence can easily be mistaken for another. Most pertinent to this revelation is the fact these regulatory bodies have failed to provide any defensible argument to justify their official stance not to fully expose dodgy law professionals fully.
Members of the public will often not know what year a barrister joined the bar, making that information inadequate. Researchers of this publication have found two barristers who bear exactly the same age and of comparable age. Both featured in adverse articles were one could have been mistaken for the other following a negative press coverage. Furthermore, solicitors and barristers are enjoying what resembles preferential treatment over members of the public who are inevitably pictured and shamed for offences, with their age added to news articles about them, for avoidance of doubt of their identity.
Solicitors and barristers ought to be held to higher account for their offences, because of their legal knowledge and educational attainment. Instead, the SRA gave a series of untenable excuses for their defence. A response from the solicitors Regulation Information Office read:
”Article 5 of the GDPR sets out the principles relating to processing of personal data – processing must be: lawful, fair, transparent, collected for a specific purpose, adequate, limited, accurate etc.
Whilst the SRA as a legal regulator is able to restrict the rights and obligations as set out in the GDPR, as defined in Schedule 2 Part 2 para 6 and as provided for by Article 23(1)(g) of the GDPR, we are still required to balance the rights and freedoms of individuals whilst completing our regulatory work.
When we publish decisions about solicitors – either our own sanctions or prosecutions at the SDT – we use their SRA number, which is unique to them as well as publishing other relevant information such as the firm they worked at the time of misconduct in order to provide the public with sufficient information about the regulatory outcome.
Publication of further information, that we do not feel is required for us to fulfil our regulatory function, would therefore be a breach of the principals as set out in the GDPR.”
Furthermore, as only a very small minority of the profession transgresses the maintenance and publication of photographs would be a burden on the SRA’s resources as well as on the legal profession which would make such an exercise even more disproportionate.
There is nothing unlawful or unfair about full disclosure of offending practitioner’s details.On the contrary, it is unfair to the public that their full identity is not provided
In not identifying barristers found guilty of misconduct by tribunals, it becomes arguable that barristers are being offered unfair protection from shame. In the event of punitive or disciplinary measures meted out to solicitors or barristers following misconduct, there appears to be no justification for not fully disclosing their identity. At the same time, members of the public who should be aware of such dodgy solicitors barristers will be sufficiently safeguarded from such unscrupulous legal professionals. Representatives of the SRA and the Bar Council stated in their defence to The Eye Of Media.Com that the history of a solicitor or barrister can be easily verified.
Yet, not everybody knows about such process of verification, let alone have the time to inquire or pursue such. It would be much easier if both regulatory bodies simply followed the same process that other publications and offending indivduals ahve to follow.
A vast majority of solicitors and barristers are law abiding, but there is are a growing minority of barristers who are law breakers who should be shun by potential clients.
Barristers found guilty of offences should at least have their photographs released or their ages revealed. The release of their photograph is the most certain way of ensuring a positive identification of the offender .It also safeguards potential client victims from being exploited by a potentially repeat offender. Safeguarding the long term interests of barrister at the expense of members of the public is a dangerous, and must not be allowed in an egalitarian society.
Representatives of the bar council told The Eye Of Media.Com that they do not store photographs of barristers, but they have not demonstrated any efforts to try and obtain them. Their decision to omit the respective ages of offending barristers is also suspicious, since this being the second best alternative to identifying a barrister guilty of misconduct. A higher bar should be placed on barristers in the pursuit of their professional duties. Protecting their identity constitutes an unfair discrimination against other members of the public based on class.
Organisations generally perceive misconduct differently from crime, shame on the basis of any legal transgression has the same principles. It alerts the public to the individual in question, and protects the public from falling prey to the known indiscretions of the culpable individual. An oversight of this kind does not bode well for the Bar Council, which is expected to be the standard bearer in the legal field. The Bar Council need to address this loophole or risk unwittingly subjecting their otherwise high reputation to degenerated standards.