Sussex barrister made bankrupt

A SUSSEX barrister has been made bankrupt by the High Court.

But John Mannion is continuing to practise as a barrister at Westgate Chambers in Lewes, East Sussex, where he is a tenant.

Under the Bar Council’s code of conduct no automatic practise ban is imposed on barristers who have been declared bankrupt.

Mannion’s bankruptcy earlier this month followed a High Court petition by the Customs and Excise department.

Mr Registrar James appointed the Government’s Insolvency Service as the official receivers.

Mannion was called to Middle Temple in 1987 and specialises in crime, road traffic and drink driving law.

Neither he nor his chambers would comment on the bankruptcy.

Under section 15 of the Solicitors Act a solicitor’s practising certificates must be suspended if he or she is declared bankrupt although the Solicitors Complaints Bureau can lift a suspension on appeal.

The Bar Council, however, keeps no record of the rate at which bankruptcies among barristers occur, and there is no formal requirement for the ruling body to be informed of them.

A council spokeswoman says: “There is no automatic ban, barristers are not holding any clients’ money and if they can continue practising then hopefully they can pay off their creditors.”

Of the Bankruptcy Association’s 3,000 members only two are barristers.

But a spokeswoman says that there are likely to be many more bankrupt barristers who feel that they are able to successfully resolve their own affairs without requiring the aid of the self-help group.