In December 2023 the Bar Council published research revealing increasing numbers of barristers were experiencing or witnessing inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour at the Bar. Through survey responses and analysis of the Talk to Spot anonymous reporting tool the Bar Council found a persistent problem with bullying, harassment and sexual harassment at the Bar. The report found:

  • 44% of respondents said they had experienced or observed bullying, harassment or discrimination while working either in person or online over the last two years. 
  • This is an increase from 38% in 2021 and 31% in 2017.
  • Respondents who had witnessed or observed these behaviours were more likely to be female, junior, and/or from ethnic minority backgrounds. Those complained about were more likely to be in a senior position, such as judges and senior barristers. 

About the review team

The Chair of the independent review is the Rt Hon Harriet Harman KC – former MP, Solicitor General, Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Right and Chair of Committees on Standards and Privileges in Parliament. She will be supported by Samantha Granger (barrister at the House of Commons) and Tom Pollard.  

The review team is supported by a reference group.

About the review

The terms of reference for the review have been developed and agreed by the Bar Council, the reference group, and the review team.

The review will seek to identify:

  • the reasons for the unacceptable levels of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment at the Bar
  • the barriers to improvement
  • the impact of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment at the Bar
  • the efficacy of the current reporting mechanisms, support services, and the sanctions regime
  • potential solutions for tackling bullying, harassment and sexual harassment at the Bar, including effective preventative strategies

You can request that your response to the review is treated in strict confidence and you can also make a response anonymously via Talk to Spot. 

The review team is interested in hearing about individual experiences. However, they will not be dealing with individual complaints (ie they will will not pass any information to the BSB or any other authority). Barrister members of the review team and reference group are exempt from their duty to report, for the purposes of the review.

Find out how to report specific incidents

Read the definitions of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment used by the Bar Council and the review.