Hands off
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Justinian in Bar Talk, Sexual harassment, Sexual offences

Britain's leading legal lights call out old deplorables at the bar ... Too much inappropriateness ... The season of harassment ... New policies agreed by the Inns of Court ... Life at the bar is "deeply seductive" ... Current reporting rules for barristers are inadequate ... Latest from the Old Dart 

UK appeal judge Dame Liz Gloster, the head of the Inner Temple, issued a pre-Christmas missive to members of the Inn, reminding them that the season's festivities are likely to see old gropers emerge from their lairs after a few drinks. 

Her message came hard on the heels of a speech at Gresham College by Professor Jo Delahunty QC of Middle Temple, who warned that sexual harassment at the bar is not sufficiently reported because pupils and young lawyers are afriad of the damage to the careers. 

Delahunty told of her own experinces, including a case 30 years ago when she was away with a lawyer 30 years older, only to discover the old goat had booked them into a double room at a hotel. 

"Some mistake, surely," she told the receptionist. Much the same sort of try-ons are still happening and are usually "dealt with alone or with the support of friends and family". 

She said that the problem was apparent because older men with great professional self-confidence, worked alongside "star-struck" lawyers, and being a barrister is a "deeply seductive" business, involving persuasion and surges of adrenaline. 

Dame Liz, urged her templars to "be resolute" - there should be no reluctance to speak up. She added that a new anti-harassment policy has been agreed with the  Council of the Inns of Court and it should be implemented once changed are agreed to the mandatory reporting rules for barristers. 

According to Prof. Delahunty, the current rules can, in some circumstances, act as a hinderance in dealing with harassment. 

See report on Jo Delahunty's speech ...

Portrait of the five female UK Court of Appeal justices. Liz Gloster on the left

Here's Dame Liz's message in full ...  

From the Master Treasurer of the Inner Temple

Dear all,

The start of the Christmas party season shouldn’t be an appropriate time to raise issues of inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment. But, sadly, it probably is. As you are bound to be aware, 2018 has been a year during which a spotlight has been shone on inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment that has been, and is still, taking place in many professions and areas of business and public life. Our profession is no exception, as Professor Jo Delahunty QC of Middle Temple pointed out very recently in a lecture at Gresham College.

As we look back on 2018 but also forward to 2019, I wanted to write to you to let you know that The Inner Temple takes harassment of any kind very seriously. We pride ourselves on being progressive and we want to strengthen our vibrant and diverse legal community. We must create a safe environment that allows everyone, at each stage of their career, to thrive.

That is why this year The Inner Temple has been working with the other Inns and the Council of the Inns of Court (“COIC”) on how we can strengthen our existing policies and procedures and coordinate our anti-harassment efforts. (See e.g. our Equality and Diversity Policy). As part of that, we have recently agreed a new Anti-Harassment Policy with the other Inns and COIC. We’re hopeful that this will be implemented very soon, once agreement is reached around changes to mandatory reporting rules for barristers. These latter rules, as Professor Delahunty identified in her speech, can, in some circumstances, act as a hindrance in dealing with harassment. They are currently being reviewed to allow us to adopt more informal procedures to resolve problems where appropriate and to have members of the Inn who are anti-harassment advisors. We will build on this work in the coming months.

Meanwhile, we recognise that some of you might feel uncomfortable about raising concerns about such matters. Please don’t be. Be resolute. Your reluctance to speak up might result in someone else having the same unpleasant experience which could have been avoided.  If you would like to discuss such concerns, you may do so in complete confidence with certain members of our staff – these are currently: Greg Dorey (Sub-Treasurer); Fiona Fulton (Director of Education); Henrietta Amodio (Head of Treasury); Struan Campbell (Outreach Manager); and Sellisha Lockyer (Scholarships and Students Manager). You can also approach the Master of Temple Church, Robin Griffith-Jones, on a similar basis. They can provide a sympathetic ear or helpful advice on a confidential basis. Any decisions would be for you to take. 

We value our inclusivity and our educational and social engagement with all of you, and are determined to prevent that from being undermined by inappropriate behaviour. If you have encountered this, we want to hear from you. Our aim is to create an open culture at The Inner Temple where our people feel able to raise their legitimate concerns freely.

In any event, may I take this opportunity to wish all of you (whatever your religion or belief) a very happy Christmas and a peaceful holiday break with family and friends. And, of course, a wonderful 2019!

Very best wishes,
Liz Gloster

Article originally appeared on Justinian: Australian legal magazine. News on lawyers and the law (http://justinian.com.au/).
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