The bar regulator has been criticised after it failed to persuade the High Court that a disciplinary sanction against a barrister convicted of harassment should have been more severe.
The court ruled that the Bar Standards Board failed to prove that no reasonable tribunal could have decided only to reprimand Lincoln Crawford after his case was heard at the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service (BTAS).
In 2006, former recorder Crawford was convicted of harassing his ex-wife and her new partner and made subject to a restraining order. The BTAS, after having Crawford’s case referred to it by the BSB, determined that Crawford should be reprimanded.
However, in 2015 he was convicted of six counts of breaching the restraining order and sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for 24 months.
The BSB again brought charges against Crawford but in June this year the tribunal once again issued a reprimand.
The tribunal noted that Crawford had, on instruction from the BSB, suspended himself from practice during the disciplinary process. It said that, but for the self-suspension, it would have also imposed a suspension.
The BSB appealed against that finding to the High Court. In judgment Lord Justice Hickinbottom and Mr Justice Green ruled that ‘nothing filed or served by the regulator suggested what a reasonable sanction might have been’. The judgment added: ‘A real difficulty faced by the court in this case was the absence of any particulars explaining why the BSB considered that the tribunal had erred. Such particulars appeared in neither the grounds of appeal, nor the BSB skeleton argument....