UK Cypriot Mario Lambis appointed Queen’s Counsel

Son of immigrant parents becomes first professional discipline barrister to be appointed QC

The son of immigrant parents has become the first barrister who specialises completely in professional discipline to be appointed Queen’s Counsel in England & Wales.

Marios Lambis, of 2 Hare Court Chambers in London, received the silk status at the Palace of Westminster. It is said to ‘break the glass ceiling’ for other barristers practising in the professional discipline specialism – an area of the legal sector which Marios believes was not ‘taken as seriously as it should’ by the profession for many years.

Today, he is considered the ‘go-to’ barrister for professionals who face disciplinary proceedings.

Originally from a criminal practice background, where he worked on major fraud and terrorist cases – including the first Iraqi Hijacking trial and cases involving funding Al-Qaeda – Marios also advised and represented the Home Office, multinational enterprises and other organisations. However, he always had an interest in representing individuals whose professional standing, competence, integrity or health was called into question. Marios moved exclusively into professional discipline law approximately 20 years ago, which at the time, was a niche of the legal sector. Despite having been advised by senior legal and judicial colleagues at the time that this was not a viable career path on its own – but rather as an add-on to another form of practice – Marios has gone to create a new professional pathway for future practitioners.

One of his most high-profile cases was the tragic killing of Baby P in 2010, where he presented the case against the Team Leader and Social Worker who failed to keep Baby P safe.

Lambis, who is of Greek Cypriot heritage, was the first person in his family to go to university. His parents left Cyprus just after the war, who he believes are much to thank for his successful career – and for teaching him to stand up to those who put barriers in his way.

“My parents left their little island in the Mediterranean and came to the UK just after the war,” Marios said. “They arrived in London, and built a happy life for themselves, running successful restaurants and building a property empire. But with my father it could be feast or famine. One week we could feel wealthy and the next concerned about bailiffs! My father had lost his mother when he was just 9 years old and had to learn to survive quickly. He not only did survive but flourished and never forgot who he was. For example, when in he was in the East End of London in 1950s, he was approached for protection money by the Kray twins.”

“A proud 6ft 3 Cypriot man, he refused. He didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his family or shame his name. A few days later, men with knuckle dusters and bats entered his restaurant and attacked him and the shop. He fought back, as did my mother who despite being pregnant hit them with her stiletto heels. A couple of weeks later, my father helped an old woman in the street who’d been taunted by some young men. It turned out, by pure coincidence, she was a relative of the Kray’s, and the order went out that he was protected, whether he liked it or not.

“There are so many stories such as this one, but this epitomised my parents. They were honourable and decent but fought like warriors if they had to. It fills me with such pride to be a London born Cypriot, and concurrently to be apparently the first professional discipline ‘silk’. My parents, who had everything stacked against them, broke their glass ceiling, and I believe my appointment paves the way for other barristers following my path, to also achieve QC status. People told me it couldn’t be done, but, together with many other incredible professionals, we’ve built this area of law into what it is today.”

Marios is also Recorder of the Crown Court with a licence to try Serious Sexual Offences. He is the 23rd barrister at 2 Hare Court to achieve silk status.
Marios parents are from Ayia Fyla in Larnaca and Polemidia in Limassol . He attended Sussex University and City University.

In the UK, Queen’s Counsel (QC) refers to a set of barristers and solicitors who the monarch appoints to be a part of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law. To achieve this status, a barrister must have practiced law for ten years and be recommended by the Lord Chancellor.

Being appointed as Queen’s Counsel is sometimes referred to as ‘taking silk’ due to members wearing a particular silk gown, and is perceived as an excellent honour to achieve in a barrister’s career. Once given the right to wear a silk gown, a Queen’s Counsel then also has precedence over other Barristers in the Court.

The honour of being Queen’s Counsel is not limited to the UK, however, but also extends to other British commonwealth countries. Although currently referred to as Queen’s Counsel, the title will be referred to as King’s Counsel when a King reigns.

What does a Queen’s Counsel do?
A QC is a very senior barrister or solicitor advocate who is recognised as an expert and leader in their legal field. A QC will often take the lead on cases, particularly highly complex cases which demand greater experience and expertise.