Lawyers Sanctioned Over Sexualised Song

In April 2023 a partner in a legal services provider was handed a stinging dressing-down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority after it imposed a financial sanction of just over forty thousand pounds in the wake of him making sexual comments to a female colleague via a song. 

What Happened In The Case?

The legal professional had an unblemished record. However, this was overturned when allegations emerged following a celebratory Christmas lunch in 2017. The event organizers seemingly planned for the persons attending to enjoy lunch before going to another place to continue celebrating. Matters progressed without incident until a third party person from the female demographic present in the second place began recording the legal professional singing songs for just over five seconds. However, the lawyer was heard and observed performing songs packed with sexual language directed at the person from the female demographic filming him. The lawyer was observed making lude comments about her body in front of everyone gathered there. This on its own was concerning. However, his loutish behavior did not cease there as he began grabbing his groin area and moving towards her direction.    

Would Have Got Away With It If it Wasn’t For the Pesky People

His actions upset the female and she was not accepting of the treatment. To underline her disapproval she complained against him. In the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, one factor going against her and favoring the lawyer was that she had made the recording of him singing before he started performing his song containing the controversial lyrics. The panel also criticized the decision to cease recording seconds after the singing stopped. It was also cynical about independent specialist evidence suggesting that the female had edited her video evidence. This was important to the SDT because the legal professional’s conduct was not interpreted as crossing the threshold. It was also unproven whether the lawyer or the female instigated the behavior directed at her. The SDT found that the lawyer had targeted the song toward her at her request. The SDT balance between what events had sparked the behavior in the first place and whilst his actions were voluntarily and spontaneous, it had to consider factors such as: 
-    his partner status 
-    the public place of the incident 
-    the professional business-related function and
-    colleagues in attendance.  
When it carried out the balancing exercise it found that the legal professional had violated his position of responsibility. Additionally, the lawyer claimed that his drunken state excused his conduct. However, the SDT rejected his explanation finding no justification for his actions despite the female potentially encouraging him through her words. 

What Did The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal Say?

The SDT found that the legal professional had committed an act of grave misconduct amounting to violations of Principles 2, 6, and 9 of the SRA Principles as his behavior was potentially hurtful. However, the panel considered it likely that he lacked the intention to inflict damage on the female.   

Lessons Learned?

This judgment serves as a reminder to lawyers to:
-    conduct themselves in a manner that holds up the confidence of the public place in those operating in the legal profession
-    act with integrity
-    not approach females and use language which could be interpreted as sexual
-    remember that with social media, persons carrying recording equipment on phones and other devices can land them in trouble and 
-    be mindful that such conduct could be career-ending. 
If you have experienced something similar or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.  
Written by Adam Green         
#BlakeMorgan #LClyde&CoLLP #CapsticksLLP #Hempsons #KingsleyNapleyLLP #RadcliffesLeBrasseur #BatesWells #CMS #DACBeachcroftLLP #FieldFisher #HerbertSmithFreehills #Russell-CookeLLP #BlackfordsLLP #CharlesRussellSpeechlysLLP #KeoughLLP #MurdochsSolicitors #StepehensonsSolicItorsLLP



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