A barrister has opposed an application for orders striking out her case against the Bar Council and the Barristers Professional Conduct Tribunal over the handling of a complaint of misconduct against her, which was dismissed.
Maura King has sued both bodies over the handling of a complaint made against her in 2013 and dismissed that same year.
Ms King claims her health has suffered as a result of how the complaint was handled. She said she has been ostracised by many members of the Bar.
The Bar Council of Ireland regulates the profession while the tribunal investigates complaints of misconduct against barristers.
In a pretrial application, both defendants are seeking to have the proceedings against them struck out on grounds, including that they are allegedly bound to fail. Ms King is opposing the application.
Ms King, represented by David Phillips QC and Brian Kennedy QC, said she brought the action not because of the tribunal’s decision to dismiss the complaint, but over the way the complaint was handled.
She claims the Bar Council failed to properly appoint seven of the nine members of the tribunal, in accordance with the council’s own disciplinary code and constitution.
The council, she claims, also failed to supervise procedures adopted by the tribunal to ensure it had implemented a system that would determine summarily and expeditiously whether a complaint of alleged misconduct against a barrister disclosed a case to answer.
Failed to respond
Ms King also alleges that the Bar Council failed to respond positively and transparently to her requests for information and assistance, and that it failed to investigate matters she reported to it after the complaint against her was dismissed.
Her claim against the tribunal includes an allegation that it did not have a system to quickly determine whether a complaint against a barrister discloses a case to answer.
She also claims it failed to provide her with a file and/or documents supplied to members of the committee, or to respond positively to her requests for information and assistance.
She claims the defendants breached their duty of care towards her and also breached her family rights and rights to privacy and caused her personal injury.
As a result of what happened, her health suffered, Ms King claims. Since 2013, she has been ostracised by members of the Bar, with most members not speaking to or acknowledging her, she claims. She is seeking damages, including aggravated damages.
She also wants orders and declarations, including requiring the Bar Council to take steps to amend the code of conduct to introduce a provision requiring the tribunal to operate a summary procedure for early dismissal of inadmissible complaints.
Michael Cush SC, for the Bar Council, said the case should be struck out on grounds, including that the claims against it are “unstateable”.
Brian Murray SC, for the tribunal, said the action against his client was “misconceived” and bound to fail.
Mr Phillips, for Ms King, rejected those arguments and said his client had no alternative but to bring the case, which was of great constitutional and personal importance to her.
The action before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan continues.