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back to article Newzbin barrister struck off for owning site he represented

A barrister has been struck off and fined after failing to disclose that he was the owner of a copyright-infringing website that he represented during trial - and for posting abusive Twitter messages. David Harris had represented Newzbin during part of a 2010 High Court hearing into whether the website was liable for copyright …

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Anonymous Coward

Truly a proven lawyer

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Anonymous Coward

"A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client."

I don't know if the case would otherwise have been winnable but it's still sad if assaults on indexers (that are not google) succeed because of poor judgement by the owners.

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Pop!

> ... diminish public confidence in the legal profession

Or demonstrate that lawyers are just ordinary people who can hide behind a wall of obscure legal (and latin) jargon.

Most people who have ever come into contact with the legal profession; either through a house purchase, divorce, damages claim or criminal prosecution in all likelihood will already have a pretty low opinion of lawyers. Whether it's the firm that charges you parters' rates for your work and then hands it off to a junior who can't even spell. Or the conveyancer who seems to take a week to drag their heels through every single stage of an otherwise simple property purchase. Or the defence lawyer who doesn't seem to understand that YOU DIDN'T DO IT and just wants you to plead guilty, so they can have an easy life, collect their considerable fee and move on to the next victim.

Maybe this guy didn't diminish public confidence in the legal profession. Maybe all he did was show them up to have the same failings, weaknesses and faults as everyone else - that he peeled away the thin veneer of competence and exposed them to the light of day. For a profession that relies so much on appearances and excluding "ordinary" people from their goings-on, a bit of harsh reality could really burst the bubble.

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" lawyers are just ordinary people who can hide behind a wall of obscure legal (and latin) jargon."

Err - apparently the hiding didn't go too well in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

You would think he would be happy pulling in the barrister bucks rather than dabbling in the grubby world of file sharing.

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Well maybe

Well maybe there's more money to be had from the advertising revenue on the file sharing site than there is being a mediocre lawyer?

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Myths about Barristers

Its interesting to note that Barristers are very like salesmen in some respects - they are essentially fee & commission based - therefore their range of earning can vary considerably and also vary wildly over time. They also have huge upfront training and development costs, - its far easier to become a solictor than a barrister as solictors have a much greater chance of getting their training contract paid for.

I would say you are better off being a mediocre solictor than a mediocre barrister.

As a profession both will earn greater than average wage but not orders of magnitude bigger than an IT professional for example. The average London contract wage is probably a similar ball park to the average barrister wage.

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I've got this silly picture in my head of a barrister cross-examining himself, sprinting back and forth between the witness box and the defence table. Alternately whipping off his wig and then plonking it back on again as the location merits.

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Happy

"...a barrister cross-examining himself....."

Ah, opportunity for a new euphamism there methinks.

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>>""...a barrister cross-examining himself....."

>>"Ah, opportunity for a new euphamism there methinks.

Well, as euphemisms go, it's a less disturbing mental image than one barrister cross-examining another one, or a pair cross-examining each other.

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Go

Yay! A society without lawyers...!

So if "[engaging] in conduct whether in pursuit of his profession or otherwise which is ... likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession" is prohibited, I expect about 99.9 % of the members of that profession to step down and find themselves other jobs.

Thanks for clearing that up.

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Anonymous Coward

' Harris....in one case referred to legal representatives for the film studios – which had brought the case against Newzbin – as "slimebags" '

And the issue is?

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Pint

The issue is

the word is slimeballs?

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Paris Hilton

Shirley

If he told the judge he didn;t know whether he had any financial interest in the company, which he owned, then that is perjury and he should be sent down for it?

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Paris Hilton

Good question, when a solicitor or a barrister is in court are they considered to be under oath. But then people speaking before the court also have privilege, i.e. if you make derogatory statements about somebody when giving evidence it's not slander (I think).

Paris, 'cos she's been sent down a few times.

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Bronze badge

i dont see the problem

I thought one was allowed to represent oneself

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FAIL

From what I remember the case was based around the owners of the site knowing that illegal file sharing was happening and a lot of this rested on forum posts by the site admins and other specific tags which were only appropriate to copyrighted material.

Considering the company behind the site was actually owned by a lawyer you'd think they would have known how to protect themselves a little better.

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Trollface

"The code also prohibits barristers from "[engaging] in conduct whether in pursuit of his profession or otherwise which is ... likely to diminish public confidence in the legal profession or the administration of justice or otherwise bring the legal profession into disrepute".

That would include breathing.

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Anonymous Coward

H4242

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duty to the Court

If a barrister has "an overriding duty to the Court to act with independence in the interests of justice", can he also have a duty to defend his client?

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Yes

His job is to represent his client's interests. The duty to the court covers things like putting forward a case which the barrister knows to be untrue. If you as his client say "I did it but I instruct you to say I didn't" the barrister would be embarrassed because if he continued he would have to breach either his duty to the court or his duty to the client. He would then have to stop acting for you.

Had he turned up at court and said "I am the man who owns Newsbin" he would have been fine. It was the deception that was the problem - you can't claim to be an independent representative with duties to the court when you are actually acting in your own interests.

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