April 13, 2024

Tribunal suspends barrister for mishandling client money and misleading the legal ombudsman

A former senior Crown prosecutor who is now a direct access barrister has been suspended for 18 months for mishandling client money and misleading the legal ombudsman. Wayne Anthony Lewis, of City Barrister Chambers, behaved in a way which was ‘likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in him or in the profession’, a bar disciplinary tribunal has found.

Lewis, called to the bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1982, is also listed on the web as a member of online chambers Clerksroom.

Five charges were laid and found proven against him. They include failure to provide a suitable client care letter, and misconduct arising from the payment of hundreds of thousands of pounds of client money into accounts which Lewis controlled. He also made payments that were not authorised and failed to repay client money.

On numerous occasions in 2021, Lewis was found to have misled the legal ombudsman. He told the watchdog he would repay a former direct access client £14,000 when he knew, or ought to have known, that he was unable to or would not do so.

Bar tribunal

When the period of suspension expires, Lewis will be banned from public access work ‘until he has provided the Bar Standards Board with satisfactory proof that he has retaken mandatory training to undertake such work’.

Commenting, a BSB spokesperson said: ‘It is essential that barristers instructed on a direct access basis provide their clients with adequate and suitable client care. In failing to do so, the Tribunal found that Mr Lewis behaved in a way which lacked integrity and diminished the public’s trust and confidence in him and the profession. Their order to suspend Mr Lewis from practice therefore reflects the seriousness of such behaviour.’

Lewis was ordered to pay costs of £5,443. 

The tribunal’s decision is open to appeal.

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