legal

Barrister who deceived wife for divorce loses disbarral challenge



The High Court has rejected an appeal from a former barrister who was disbarred for knowingly serving his own divorce papers to the wrong address.

Ehi Ukiwa was found to have deliberately misstated his wife’s address to a court so someone other than his wife could sign the divorce papers, enabling him to fraudulently obtain a divorce.

The Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Services disbarred him in 2020 after four charges of professional misconduct – including dishonesty – were found proved against him.

Ukiwa appealed, arguing before the High Court that the tribunal misdirected itself and made a serious procedural error by departing from the finding of a court on the matter. He said the tribunal’s approach to fact-finding was against the requirements of natural justice and inconsistent with established authorities.

But in a judgment published today, Mrs Justice Collins Rice said she was ‘entirely satisfied’ that no jurisdictional error appeared in the case. Even if the decision to start fact-finding afresh could be described as irregular, there was no argument that it resulted in an injustice to Ukiwa, and he had been given a proper and fair hearing. ‘It was from start to finish an exercise in going the extra mile to ensure that Mr Ukiwa was not subjected to prejudice or unfairness in the proceedings before it,’ the judge said.

Collins Rice J concluded that both a tribunal and a family judge had found that Ukiwa supplied the wrong address to the family court and also found a clear link between that address and his wife’s forged signature.

She added: ‘The address could not have been an honest mistake because no mistaken recipient would have known the wife’s signature, copied it, and filed the acknowledgment of service at court. They found the fraud proven on these facts alone.’

 



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