Unregistered barristers Natarajan Balachandran, Mei Leong and Theyakaraja Palaniandy were ordered to be disbarred by an independent disciplinary tribunal at a hearing which concluded on 5 December, following charges of professional misconduct brought by the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
The tribunal’s decision comes after Mr Balachandran, Mr Leong and Mr Theyakaraja, were struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya during 2016 and 2017 for separate offences relating to failure to return client money.
Mr Balachandran was found by the Malaysian authorities to have failed to return a deposit paid to him by his client for the purpose of obtaining a loan, which he then failed to obtain. He was struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya in March 2016.
Mr Leong was found by the Malaysian authorities to have failed to release a sum of money to a client, which he received whilst acting on their behalf in the sale of the client’s property. He was struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya in April 2017.
Mr Theyakaraja was found by the Malaysian authorities to have failed to refund a deposit paid to him pending the completion of a purchase of land, which ultimately did not take place. He was struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors of the High Court of Malaya in October 2016.
In deciding to disbar them from the Bar of England and Wales, the tribunal found that they had acted in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence the public places in them or in the profession.
The tribunal also found that the three individuals had failed to report to the BSB that they had been subject to disciplinary action by another regulator. The delay in concluding the proceedings arose from difficulties in tracing the current whereabouts of the three individuals.
Commenting on the orders to disbar, Sara Jagger, BSB Director of Legal and Enforcement said: “Although these serious breaches of professional obligations were committed in a foreign jurisdiction, the BSB retains regulatory oversight of all those called to the Bar regardless of where they reside. The tribunal’s findings serves as a reminder that barristers’ core duties apply even when practising in another jurisdiction.”
The tribunal’s decisions are open to appeal.
Notes to editors
About Natarajan Balachandran
Natarajan Balachandran was called to the Bar of England and Wales by Lincoln’s Inn in July 1986.
About Mei Leong
Mei Leong was called to the Bar of England and Wales by Lincoln’s Inn in July 1982.
About Theyakaraja Palaniandy
Theyakaraja Palaniandy was called to the Bar of England and Wales by Lincoln’s Inn in July 1985.
About disciplinary tribunals
The appointment, operation, and decisions (including sentencing) of disciplinary tribunal panels are performed by the Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS). BTAS is run independently of the Bar Standards Board, the barristers' regulator. The BSB is responsible for bringing charges of professional misconduct against barristers, which BTAS tribunal panels then adjudicate.
About the Bar Standards Board
Our mission is to regulate barristers and specialised legal services businesses in England and Wales in the public interest. For more information about what we do visit: http://bit.ly/1gwui8t
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