sutherland

Coming to a court near you.


Four years after he was suspended from the Hong Kong Bar following one of the maddest court performances on record, a barrister has sued his own lawyers for their part in his legal battle with his ex-wife.

Mark Sutherland has accused a Hong Kong firm, two barristers, and a solicitor of professional negligence, breach of agreement, breach of contract, and breach of their fiduciary duties for the advice they provided Sutherland on his “various disputes with his wife at the time”.

Sutherland is suing Hampton Winter & Glynn, Parkside Chambers barristers Peter HC Barnes and Robin Egerton, and Chow Ruskin Brown founding partner Jain Ruskin Brown for damages relating to, amongst other things, £100,000 (HK$1,068,746) in wasted counsel's fees, £150,000 (HK$1,500,000) he transferred to his daughter’s school, and for allowing his ex-wife to “pay away, liquidate, dissipate or otherwise diminish the value of her securities portfolio”.

Related court applications reveal how Sutherland's problems with his ex-wife began when he started checking her phone because he suspected that she was having an affair. She alleged that in subsequent quarrels he banged her head on the wall, threw her to the floor, “scolded her with foul language”, and threw a glass and a “large ceramic basin” at her.

Sutherland denied those allegations, but a fight in 2016 resulted in the police arresting the pair. Both were charged with assault, although the prosecution subsequently withdrew its charges.

Following numerous custody hearings, his ex-wife took out an advertisement in HK newspaper The Standard in 2020 demanding that he pay her HK$1.48 million in court fees.

The couple’s scraps occurred in parallel to the events leading to Sutherland’s suspension from the Bar, which were widely covered by the Hong Kong press.

The barrister had acted in 2013 for a man who was convicted of indecently assaulting a woman at a cinema, but in 2017 his client successfully appealed his sentence on the basis of Sutherland’s extraordinary conduct in court.

Sutherland's lengthy cross-examinations were deemed to have caused the 2013 trial to swell from its two day estimate to a 19 day beast.

One protracted line of questioning saw Sutherland repeatedly challenging the alleged victim on her knowledge of Red Lights, a thriller starring Robert De Niro which she claimed she had been watching at the cinema when the assault occurred.

After several hours, the magistrate interjected to ask Sutherland how much longer he expected to keep her on the stand, to which the barrister replied, “At least the whole of tomorrow morning…If not slightly longer”, and then insisted on playing sections of the movie for the court.

Another cinematic episode involved Sutherland using a ruler to measure the victim’s forearm, in order to prove that it would have been normal for someone else’s arm to nudge her in the cinema, given the narrowness of the seats.

When asked to get a move on, he told the magistrate, “I’m not going to stop just because it [is] economic and because there are other cases waiting. That’s too bad. The prosecution can withdraw the charges, and we’ll all go home. No problem”.

Sutherland then sought to have the alleged victim measure her bum, asking, “The size of the part of your body that occupies the seat, in other words, your bottom, your buttocks, is the same size now as it was in August of last year, correct?”

She was “duly obliged to sit on the ruler” so her bottom could be measured, despite her protestations that it was “really insulting”. 

When Sutherland discovered the bloated trial would clash with his vacation plans, he laid into the magistrate for refusing to reschedule the proceedings, telling him, “You have single-handedly, Sir, ruined my holiday plans and those of my family. Ruined”.

Calling it an “astonishing outburst”, the HK Court of Appeal allowed his former client’s appeal against conviction. It also dismissed Sutherland's appeal against a wasted costs order and ordered a copy of the judgment to be sent to the HK Bar Council.

Sutherland was referred to a disciplinary tribunal which suspended him from practice for three years in July 2019, but although an appeal was rejected, he was granted leave last year to adduce fresh evidence in support of his allegation that the Chairman of the tribunal lacked impartiality.

RollOnFriday asked Sutherland’s new set of lawyers if he would like to comment, but they did not respond. Neither did the old lawyers he’s suing.


Want to anonymously see which firms want you? Download LawyerUp on the App Store or Google Play, and let top firms and companies ping the app when they like you for a role.


 

Survey
Thank you for taking part in RollOnFriday's survey of in-house lawyers. We use the results to write stories and reports. We don't take your name and so the answers you provide will be kept anonymous.
Your role
Your sector
When you're picking a firm, what's the most important factor?
How do you think the size of your in-house team will change over the next two years?
Will this be at the expense of instructing private practice?
How happy are you with your external lawyers working from home?
Tip Off ROF

Comments

Anonymous 26 May 23 08:45

What did the ex-wife have to say?

Anonymous 26 May 23 09:11

Actually, if her measuring her butt established she was too big for the seat, sounds like a good tactic. Not sure what the alternative would be?

Scep Tick 26 May 23 09:50

She alleged that in subsequent quarrels he banged her head on the wall, threw her to the floor, “scolded her with foul language”, and threw a glass and a “large ceramic basin” at her.

Everything including the kitchen sink.

Anonymous 26 May 23 10:04

"She was “duly obliged to sit on the ruler” so her bottom could be measured, despite her protestations that it was “really insulting”."

I think that in years to come we may look back on this man as a genius born decades before his time. A real Mozart of the courtroom whose prodigy and brilliance was underappreciated in his own life but eventually becomes a guiding light for the profession to aspire to.

 

Courtroom brilliance aside, "Yo you're duly obliged to sit on the ruler baby" is going to be the go-to chat-up line of choice for all Hong Kong lawyers until at least 2030.

Anonymous 26 May 23 12:49

I fell on a ruler once.

I was in A&E for hours with it.  Loads of medics came to look at me.

Apparently it's a lot more common that you think.

Inspired 27 May 23 16:51

Mark Sutherland has surely inspired a new generation of comedic geniuses to pursue a career at the Bar.

Mark Sutherland is Disgusting 29 May 23 14:44

//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.//

https://www.thestandard.com.hk/section-news/section/4/210959/'Filibustering'-barrister-barred

 

 

I LOVE BARRISTER MARK SUTHERLAND 30 May 23 15:15

Such a responsible lawyer.  Leaves no stone unturned.  Must be very good.  He should apply for silk and become Mark Sutherland SC, or apply to become the Chief Justice.

AbsurdinessBrown 01 June 23 11:40

The stuff of legends. 

And nightmares. 

legal student 06 June 23 11:42

When I grow up I want to be just like this action man barrister!

Love Barrister Mark Sutherland For Lowering Standards 23 June 23 06:52

I love how these antics of Hong Kong Barrister Mark Sutherlands made everyone else look learned, erudite and sane.  All other barristers on the planet look like super stars compared to this brainless idiot.

Does Barrister Mark Sutherland Know What He Is Doing? 10 August 23 12:27

Does Barrister Mark Sutherland Know What He Is Doing?

Related News