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Ex-Freshfields partner ‘caught on the shifting sands of attitudes towards sexual behaviour’, High Court told

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Ryan Beckwith appealing £35,000 fine over drunken sexual incident with junior colleague

High Court

Ex-Freshfields partner Ryan Beckwith, who was fined by a tribunal after engaging in sexual activity with a drunken junior colleague, was “caught on the shifting sands of attitudes towards sexual behaviour”, the High Court has heard.

Beckwith, a former restructuring and insolvency partner in the magic circle firm’s London office, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £200,000 in costs following a nine-day-long hearing last year.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found the top lawyer had failed to act with integrity and had brought the profession into disrepute. Beckwith lodged an appeal against the ruling in February.

Alisdair Williamson QC, for Beckwith, told the High Court this week that his client had displayed a “temporary lapse” of judgement rather than persistent, unwanted behaviour, The Law Society Gazette reports.

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Williamson argued that sanctioning Beckwith for consensual sexual activity was an “unforeseeable intrusion into solicitors’ private lives” and that there had been “disproportionate” interference with his Article 8 rights.

In response, lawyers for the Solicitors Regulation Authority submitted that Beckwith owed a duty of care to his junior colleague, known only as ‘Person A’, that he knew was highly intoxicated and that her judgement was impaired.

The hearing continues.

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