News

Lawyers joining Extinction Rebellion protests risk disciplinary action, solicitor warns

By on
26

Leigh Day associate Gideon Habel advises legally-minded protestors to carry out ‘risk analysis’ before hitting the streets

Lawyers eager to hit the streets and join the Extinction Rebellion protests should carry out their own “risk analysis” before doing so — or face potential regulatory repercussions, a solicitor has warned.

Gideon Habel, an associate at London law firm Leigh Day, advises his fellow solicitors to be mindful of the regulatory obligations when exercising their right to protest, including to uphold the rule of law and administration of justice, as well as to behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in the profession.

The regulatory and disciplinary specialist suggests solicitors and barristers “balance their determination to get their voice heard with the risks of disciplinary action”, Legal Futures reports.

The Leigh Day solicitor believes it’s up to the regulators (the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board) to determine whether it is in the public interest to discipline protesting lawyers who fall foul of the law.

Advising every lawyer to carry out their own “individual risk analysis” before joining a particular protest, Habel continues:

“There is a tension between the individual rights of legal professionals protected by the common law and Human Rights Act, and the degree to which a professional regulator can limit those rights to protect the reputation of the profession and carry out its duties as a public interest regulator.”

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

The warning comes just weeks after Extinction Rebellion’s legal arm descended on the Royal Courts of Justice, calling on the profession to “step up and take a positive role in tackling the biggest challenge facing our planet”.

As part of protests across the capital, the legally-minded group (made up of lawyers, legal professionals and law students) distributed copies of their declaration — using eye-catching pink ribbon which is often seen wrapped around barristers’ briefs — arguing that the legal system is a “key contributor” to the environmental “crisis”.

Image credit: Twitter @kingofthek0p

The Metropolitan Police obtained an order under section 14 of the Public Order Act just over a week later, which effectively banned the protests from continuing anywhere in London.

Extinction Rebellion is now challenging the order — which has since been lifted — arguing that the it was unlawful because the Met went beyond its powers to prohibit “multiple assemblies, both ongoing and intended”. The High Court case will be heard by Lord Justice Dingemans and Mr Justice Chamberlain from 10:30am today.

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

26 Comments

Anony-mouse

LC, please can you tell me what the Extinction Rebellion NQ salary is?

(51)(0)

Disillusioned Liberal

Newly Qualified protester gets circa £400 a week net, paid as expenses via one left wing NGO or another.

It’s a booming practice area. So much growth potential.

(24)(3)

gewfq

£37 million.

(2)(0)

srrs

I cannot believe Leigh Day hasn’t been shut down.

(22)(3)

Alan Robertshaw

Just for clarity; the police don’t really “obtain” a S.14 order; it’s a condition they impose themselves. Then that’s susceptible to challenge by way of JR; as here.

One possible way round the condition wold have been to put the police on notice the demo was a ‘public procession’; with the route just up and down the pavement outside the RCJ. Then an S.14 prohibition wouldn’t bite and they’d have to do a S.13 (or 13 if they want a blanket ban).

(4)(0)

Dooh

That was dull.

(2)(3)

US NQ

Of course solicitors cannot join the Extinction Rebellion. A solicitor blocking entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice would surely be in breach of the SRA Code of Conduct. Blocking the streets and public transport also raises a lot of issues with that integrity requirement.

(20)(2)

US firm NQ

Of course solicitors cannot join the Extinction Rebellion. A solicitor blocking entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice would surely be in breach of the SRA Code of Conduct. Blocking the streets and public transport also raises a lot of issues with that integrity requirement.

(1)(2)

:)

Okay bro, no need to repeat yourself.

(9)(1)

tips@legalcheek.com

Alex why do not you delete a comment when it was clearly duplicated by mistake? What is wrong with you?

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Chronic laziness.

(1)(0)

US firm 2 PQE

Of course solicitors must join the Extinction Rebellion. A solicitor blocking entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice would surely be held in high regard for all the adjournment fees that would follow such an action. Blocking the streets and public transport also shows the power of the law in action.

(5)(0)

ln

Of course solicitors must join the Extinction Rebellion. A solicitor blocking entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice would surely be held in high regard for all the adjournment fees that would follow such an action. Blocking the streets and public transport also shows the power of the law in action.

(0)(0)

John Curran

Risk analysis.

That barrister who warned about impersonating a qc on twitter.

Such bores.

(6)(0)

Scented oil burner

HIPPIES!

(2)(1)

Tommy

They were not blocking access to the RCJ, they were just protesting outside.

I still think they’re a ruddy pain in the **** and need a wash.

(3)(2)

grumpy old man

Bloody hypocritical millennial’s taking a stance! No doubt being driven to the protest in daddy’s range rover, using there mobile and holding up their signs from the amazon rain forest whilst walking around with their ocado plastic bags and wearing their Canada Goose fur lined coats whilst booking their spiritual retreat to Bali on their commercial flight.

(10)(3)

Kathleen Cheslett rose

So these millennials as they think they can get support in court action why is the court not taking their law breaking into consideration in the verdict

(1)(0)

grumpy old man

Bloody hypocritical millennial’s taking a stance! No doubt being driven to the protest in daddy’s range rover, using there mobile and holding up their signs from the amazon rain forest whilst walking around with their ocado plastic bags and wearing their Canada Goose fur lined coats whilst booking their spiritual retreat to Bali on their commercial flight.

(4)(3)

John

If I discovered the lawyers I instruct on my private equity deals were working for ER I would immediately instruct another firm.

(9)(2)

Anonymous

Wow John, I’m sure your loss of work would cause them severe financial difficulties…

(3)(2)

John

UHNWI such as myself spend a lot of time trawling student legal tabloids. Don’t be so closed-minded.

(3)(1)

Heh

I would love to see members of the Bar in ER superglue themselves to the doors of the next chambers that takes on BP as a client.

(6)(1)

You can kill the protestor but you can't kill the protest.

What’s the difference between an activist involved in civil disobedience and a lawyer? One gets a statue in Parliament Square 50 years after the fact, the other facilitates the perpetuation of a broken system until the law catches up to meet the pressing needs of society.

Plenty on XR are smelly hippy doctors, lawyers and business executives. If you feel the protests are too high risk consider supporting the legal observers or lend some pro bono hours to the arrested. But frankly protest is not for the most part illegal, generally speaking only XR members who opt to be arrested are. Have fun, join marched, just perhaps don’t taken a spray can or join the black block!

I’m looking forward to seeking the Jr being upheld today because protest is fundamental to positive legal change and democracy.

(4)(0)

Anon

They had zero interest in carbon emissions, species and rising sea levels until they saw that the protests were rapidly gathering media attention and they could look ‘caring’ and ‘nice’. That’s why they were never at Greenpeace’s or Plane Stupid’s protests – same environmental problems but ‘crazy environmental hippy’ was a slur back then.

Some of the same XR protesters have previously been involved in squatting in mansions for the sake of it, the Poll Tax riots and whichever thrill of ‘disrupting the system’ and being able to shout in the streets without reproach comes next.

It’s an ego-fulling fad. They will ‘care’ about something else in a few months or so.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

Yet when members of the royal family of Belgium get to involved, such as Princess Esmeralda, there are no repercussions. Makes sense.

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

Related Stories