Bar Council takes the lead on tackling sexual harassment in the profession

7 March 2016

The Bar Council has stepped up its efforts to tackle any residual sexual harassment in the profession, now with a guide to help chambers. This forms part of the response to the Bar Council's 2015 research, Snapshot: The Experience of Self-Employed Women at the Bar, which highlighted instances of unacceptable behaviour experienced by some barristers.  

In a move aimed at ensuring chambers properly handle any allegation of harassment, the Bar Council says this is another step in seeking to make chambers not only compliant with the relevant rules around this kind of behaviour, but also better able to handle complaints as and when they arise. The guide will assist all barristers in appropriately managing their practice and professional relationships with others.

Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: "We have a clear road map on what Bar Council, as the profession's representative body, can do to better support barristers and it is time to take action. This guide is another step in a series of support tools that the Bar Council is leading on." 

Fiona Jackson, Vice-chair of the Bar Council's Equality Diversity & Social Mobility Committee, said: "The guide builds on our programme of Equality & Diversity support work and last year's Snapshot: The Experience of Self-Employed Women at the Bar. In addition, it contributes to our wider aim of relegating any residual pernicious sexual harassment of barristers, pupil barristers and staff to the past in order to ensure a level playing field in practice where all barristers can thrive and succeed to the highest levels. It underscores that harassment should not be tolerated in any circumstances and that complaints should be taken seriously and echoes the Bar Council's ongoing commitment to protecting potentially more vulnerable members of Chambers and ensuring that they feel supported when making complaints." 

The Tackling Sexual Harassment: Information for Chambers guide defines sexual harassment clearly and comprehensively, and outlines barristers' duties and regulatory requirements with a range of useful factual scenarios and a model policy emphasising best practice. 

The guide, which is part of the Bar Council's Practice & Ethics Hub  includes tips and case study scenarios, victim support information as well as advice on encouraging self-reporting of sexual harassment to the Bar Standards Board, the Bar's regulator.   

Access the guide here: www.barcouncil.org.uk/practice-ethics/professional-practice-and-ethics/equality-and-diversity/sexual-harassment-information-for-chambers/

Ends

Notes to Editors 

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.