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15 September 2021

Sexual misconduct: zero tolerance at the Bar

2 mins

The Bar Tribunals and Adjudication Service (BTAS) has just announced its second consultation for Sanctions Guidance over Misconduct. Some Inns of Court have expressed concern regarding the first consultation and have challenged the minimal penalty proposed of a 12 month suspension for more minor sexual misconduct, citing this is disproportionate and fails to take personal mitigation into account. In their view, behaviour such as ‘wolf whistling’ or sending a message with sexual content over social media does not merit a minimum 12 month suspension (the old sanctions recommended a reprimand for such behaviour). But the BTAS is standing firm.

The position of the BTAS is similar to many regulatory bodies and institutions and reflects a change in attitudes towards tolerance (or not) of any sexually inappropriate behaviour at work, academic institutions or organisations.

A negative finding at any disciplinary hearing for sexual misconduct can have devastating consequences for the individual and their future prospects. If the BTAS recommendations are adopted, a self-employed barrister will face a 12 month suspension, at least.

Expert legal advice is essential at the outset of any investigation, especially if the misconduct alleged is of a criminal nature. Our team at Bindmans can assist in all areas. For further information please contact Kate Goold or call +44 (0)20 7014 2020.

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