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Over 200 top lawyers sign petition calling on London’s Garrick Club to scrap men-only membership policy

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Women are being excluded from vital networking opportunities, according to letter

The Garrick Club, London

Over 200 top lawyers have signed an open letter calling on the Garrick Club in London to scrap its men-only membership policy.

The exclusive club is frequented by a number of top judges and QCs, and acts as a “forum where senior members of the legal profession socialise and network with each other”, according to the petition published this week.

It argues that male lawyers can, through their memberships, “form connections with senior legal practitioners and members of the judiciary to support their professional aspirations”. The same opportunity is “expressly denied” to women.

Women are welcome in most parts of the club, but only as the guests of male members.

The letter has so far attracted signatures from 210 lawyers, including QCs, law firm partners, barristers, associates and other legal professionals. Seventy-one are men and 139 are women.

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It continues:

“When women are excluded without good reason or cast as ‘guests’ — good enough to be wined and dined but not to belong — in a forum in which professionally advantageous invisible connections are made, it undermines the position of women and feeds the conscious or unconscious bias of men.”

The petition goes on to argue that the male-only membership rule “cannot be consistent with a commitment to equality and diversity”, and urges members to “call a vote and to vote in favour of admitting women”.

The petition follows the news in September that the club was reportedly facing legal action after businesswoman Emily Bendell instructed law firm Leigh Day to seek an injunction to prevent it from continuing to operate the “discriminatory” policy. In a pre-action letter sent to the club in September, lingerie company owner Bendell argued the club’s refusal to admit women represents a breach of the 2010 Equality Act.

The Garrick Club has been approached for comment.

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34 Comments

Lord L

Quite right!

(5)(26)

Cynic

Indeed. It would be quite the victory for equality if the Garrick chose admit women of the right wealth, class and status too.

(18)(1)

Anonymous

It is a good time to be from the right privileged background while ticking the gender or ethnicity boxes. Good times indeed. Effortless surfing over all the working class plebs, especially the white male ones.

(4)(0)

😂

Some big names on the list… and Jolyon

(11)(0)

Hackaforte

He does love his doomed causes, doesn’t he?

(8)(0)

John

We all know he will put his name to anything…

(12)(0)

Bob

No business of anyone but the members

(43)(6)

Young Garrick Member

Insane. The people who signed this would not enjoy membership, so why take one of the founding principles of it away from those who are fervent adherents to the Club’s values?

(38)(8)

Hackaforte

Those values being..?

(8)(2)

Young Garrick Member

Well, fundamentally the general patronage of the dramatic arts, which in and of itself is not related to the Bar or the Judiciary in any way whatsoever. The basis on which membership is decided is that it would be better that ten unobjectionable men should be excluded than one terrible bore should be admitted. The entire character of the Club would change – in my opinion and that of many others – for the worse if women were to be admitted as members. One must of course remember that there are many Clubs in London who admit both men and women as members (and many of these Clubs are delightful) and also Clubs which only admit women (for which I cannot speak).

(20)(8)

Female here

If we start this then then it should be across the spectrum. Female only lunches, brunches and any other female networking events should also be prohibited.

(60)(5)

FlourPour

I love the idea of them calling for inclusivity at their exclusive private members’ club.

(29)(1)

Chad Barrister

Ok then why are they all perfectly happy to organize and attend women only events that specifically exclude their male colleagues?
The usual screeching from the hypocritical lefties at the bar.

(35)(3)

Caroline

hi Chad, if women had not been excluded and underrepresented for centuries these female only events would serve no purpose and most likely not exist, but that is not the world we live in.

(9)(23)

Bob

There is no justification for double standards. Two wrongs don’t make a right. No-one likes a hypocrite.

(19)(3)

Snow flake geezer

Bob don’t be so difficult. Rich white western women are the most oppressed group on earth. We need to make sure they can dine in private members clubs like the men at a cost of £2000 a year. They can barely survive the poor ladies, perhaps we should run a charity event so that in a year when poorer people are losing their loved ones and their livelyhoods, these discriminated against women can spend money that others could do with to put food on the table. We all need to see this as the great civil rights struggle it is.

(15)(2)

Bowler

What a ghastly group. Bet most have never set foot in the place.

(15)(2)

Observer

Over 200 ‘top lawyers’ are concerned about networking opportunities… why don’t they just start their own members’ club. But, alas, I think networking clearly isn’t the issue here but is a veiled excuse to try and further leftist political agendas.

(18)(4)

Annie Mouse

Would being dull and self-righteous be a prerequisite for membership of this club or would it just be strongly encouraged?

(12)(3)

Swing and a miss, old sport

It might get you in a club but you won’t make it in the club. If you know, you know.

(1)(0)

Wise Georgey

Well this discrimination based on gender is entirely legal , on if the accommodating the male gender is the main reason why the club was established then this will stand. And perhaps, is the reason why it continues to today.

If people fear they may miss out of opportunities through events, then try encourage others to host the events elsewhere. But that would be breaking social distancing laws.

(12)(1)

Wise Georgey

Well this discrimination based on gender is entirely legal , on if the accommodating the male gender is the main reason why the club was established then this will stand. And perhaps, is the reason why it continues to today.

If people fear they may miss out of opportunities through events, then try encourage others to host the events elsewhere. But that would be breaking social distancing laws.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I would not want to be a member of any club that lets those on the petition in, be they male, female, or anything in between.

(12)(0)

Good Game

I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club full stop. Dull, soulless places with a crumbling membership – I had dinner at one last year invited by a friend and the food could have been served in a school canteen, but all is forgiven because it’s “exclusive”.

(3)(5)

Bob

These are private clubs. They do not provide or involve a public good. Only children and the foolish are jealous and angry not to be invited to the private parties of others. Complaining about it tends to show why they were not invited in the first place.

I had a female silk say to me seriously this week that women only private clubs were justified (and there are two in our city) and men only private clubs were not because “patriarchy”. I hate all double standards.

(14)(2)

Young Garrick Member

I think your friend should find better company…

(4)(0)

Kev

Serious stupid question from a non-UK… the 2010 Equality Act, to this non-lawyer, seems to deal with workplace and places of private and public services. Is a private club a “service”?

(0)(0)

Vek

Schedule 16 provides a carve out.

(5)(0)

Sir Reginald de Gammon

I think women should be allowed in…

As waitresses, providing their skirts are no more than three inches below the waistline and navy blue knickers are worn at all times.

Phwoaaaaarr!!!!!

(12)(2)

Why Tho?

Why would you want to be a member of a club where you have to force someone’s hand to be admitted???

Is it really worth all the dirty looks and crappy behaviour you’ll only receive from other members in the long run???

Life’s too short. Eff the club and spend your precious time traveling the world once COVID is over.

(10)(1)

Baz

200 twats have signed a letter advertising their status as twats. Good.

(13)(0)

Bob

The attempted revenge of the unclubbable

(8)(0)

Senior Junior

And how many of these signatories want to be members themselves? Presumably all of them because of the perceived chances of being able to do what they complain about, namely “form connections”?
I thought with QC Appointments and the JAC all this sort of clubby networking nonsense was a thing of the past.

(1)(0)

Anon

I’m really struggling to care about the affairs of a private members club.

How about we just let ridiculous dress-up clubs like these continue their inexorable slide into irrelevance? Why try to needlessly prolong their life?

(1)(1)

Comments are closed.

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