'Filibustering' barrister barred

Local | Stella Wong 23 Aug 2019

A barrister has been suspended from practicing for three years due to his "filibustering" in court.

Back in 2013, Mark Sutherland turned an indecent assault trial in the Kowloon City Magistrates' Court, which should have finished in a few days, into one lasting 19 working days - spanning four calendar months and involving 1,865 pages of transcripts.

His client eventually walked free from the charge after appealing his case in 2017, but Sutherland was ordered by the Court of Appeal to pay HK$180,000 in compensation to the prosecutors for serious misconduct.

In his judgment, Justice Andrew Macrae said Sutherland's conduct was "the most disgraceful and egregious" he has ever encountered.

The case was passed on to the Bar Association, whose Bar Council decided to suspend Sutherland from practicing for three years starting from August 9.

Five complaints were lodged against Sutherland with the Barristers Disciplinary Tribunal, with all pertaining to his conduct when he defended his client.

The complaints said he asked questions and made statements during the trial that were intended to insult and annoy a prosecution witness, or were otherwise an abuse of the counsel's function - despite warnings from the court.

He also wasted the court's time during his questioning of a prosecution witness and in other aspects.

The disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of all complaints, and he will also have to pay costs to the Bar Council.

He refused to comment when contacted yesterday.

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