On 17th January 2023, the industry regulator, the Bar Standards Board decided to hand down an order imposing a ban on a barrister preventing him from continuing to practise after evidence emerged
Letchy Lawyer Leaves Profession
A high-profile case hit the legal headlines in the Autumn of 2022 which centring around a legal professional who had accrued in excess of three decades as a lawyer and achieved the accolade of partner. However, all appeared to have come crashing down when he was unceremoniously removed from the roll of solicitors for sexually harassing a female staff member.
What Happened In the Case?
The lawyer qualified as a solicitor in around 1991 and began working with the female complainant in around 2014. The Solicitors Regulation Authority case summary explained that the senior lawyer and his more junior counterpart started working together and a short time later began exchanging text messages and Some were interpreted as unprofessional.
What Happened Next…
An incident took place in around 2017 where the pair found themselves in a car journey and travelling back from a meeting. For context the more junior female member of staff was driving the vehicle and the senior lawyer was positioned next to her in the passenger seat. During the course of a return journey from the meeting the senior lawyer made the decision to move his hand, put his hand on her upper leg and made some suggestive comments and remarks.
Around eight weeks after the incident involving two legal professionals another incident took place whilst the pair were involved in a workplace meeting. The female at the centre of the allegations apparently did not have long to wait until she was due to embark on her period of absence due to maternity leave. During the course of the respective meeting the senior lawyer appeared to have ventured off road voicing his opinion over the fact that the female member of staff was pregnant, due to embark on leave for maternity purposes and inexplicably made remarks about her sex life, which were nothing to do with him and was a private matter.
The female colleague seemingly felt offended by the actions of her male counterpart’s seeming lack of ability to control his behaviour when in the company of female members of staff. She notified industry regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority about the:
- unprofessional correspondence received on her mobile device
- sexual harassment incident whilst the pair were in the car en route from the work-related and
- comments made during the meeting.
If the lawyer thought the matter could not get any worse than he was sadly mistaken and things went from bad to worse for him as the firm notified the Solicitors Regulation Authority some sixteen weeks later as they were concerned about his unprofessional conduct.
The Game Is Up…
When the female member of staff and the lawyer’s employer submitted the evidence to the Solicitors Regulation Authority the regulator then proceeded to put the treasure trove of allegations to him. When the lawyer considered the strength of the overwhelming evidence against him he made a full admission to all the allegations placed against him, expressed his regretv over what had happened and made the difficult decision to resign from his position with the firm and the roll of solicitors.
Lessons Learned for Experienced and Aspiring Lawyers
All legal professionals would be well advised to take in the message of this case seriously and consider it with guidance notes issued by the SRA on the standards of behaviour expected. They should:
- avoid blurring the lines between private and personal life
- create a culture whereby such behaviour is unacceptable and
- ensure such allegations are taken seriously
If such a strategy is followed it will limit the probability of this situation arising.
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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES
[SOURCE 1] Hyde, John – Former Capsticks boss admits unwanted sexual advances – Law Society Gazette – 31 August 2022 - Former Capsticks boss admits unwanted sexual advances | News | Law Gazette
[SOURCE 2] Solicitors Regulation Authority – Sexual Misconduct – 1st September 2022 - SRA | Sexual misconduct guidance | Solicitors Regulation Authority
[SOURCE 3] Principle 2 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles
[SOURCE 4] Principle 5 of the Solicitors Regulation Authority Principles
[SOURCE 5] Rule 4.1 Regulatory and Disciplinary Procedure Rules