A six-week public consultation on proposals to update the sanctions guidance for barristers, including in cases of sexual misconduct, will begin in April, the bar’s regulator announced yesterday.
Claims that disciplinary matters involving sexual conduct are dealt with too leniently by the professions’ disciplinary body, the Bar Tribunals Adjudication Service (BTAS), prompted the Bar Standards Board to reveal last month that a review of the entire sanctions guidance was underway.
In a recent judgment, the tribunal heard that a 36-year-old male barrister had slapped the bottom of a 22-year-old female pupil at a Christmas party, causing her physical pain, held her round the neck and pulled her on to his lap. He was given a reprimand and a £6,000 fine.
Another barrister was suspended from practice for three months for the ’intentional sexual touching’ of two junior colleagues without their consent.
Last year, a former senior government barrister, who was one of the first people convicted of ‘upskirting’, was suspended for six months.
Following the initial consultation on the range of sanctions for specific types of breaches, the full guidance will be redrafted, and subject to a further 10-week consultation starting in July.
The complete revised guidance is expected to come into force in November.
The review is being carried out by the BTAS secretariat together with the BSB with guidance from the BTAS Strategic Advisory Board, a body that provides independent advice to the tribunal. Five of its eight members are men. The board is chaired by Antony Townsend, a former chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority.