The Bar Council has written to both the Bar Standards Board (BSB) and the Bar Tribunal and Adjudication Service (BTAS) about concerns over the handling of harassment cases.
Whilst welcoming the BSB's review of sanctions guidance, the Chair of the Bar, Derek Sweeting QC, and Chair of the Bar Council's Equality, Diversity & Social Mobility Committee, Elaine Banton, pointed out that the Bar Council had raised concerns about the issue back in May 2019.
In the most recent correspondence to the BSB and BTAS, the Bar Council wrote: "We are disappointed that there are still clearly issues with the investigations and sanctions process in this sensitive area. Many barristers have spoken to us about what appears to be a trend indicative of a level of inconsistency in sanctions based on offence. For example, a case where a practising barrister was awarded a more severe sentence for failing to renew a practising certificate, compared to another barrister who sexually assaulted two women at a Bar related social event.
"Rather perversely and seemingly not reflective of the seriousness of offences, the practising certificate offence received a 4-month suspension as opposed to the sexual assaults receiving a 3-month suspension."
BTAS and the BSB have now both responded to the Bar Council.