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Bar group looks to tackle workplace abuse with ‘active bystanders’

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All Rise project creates special pin badge as visible sign of support

A group of barristers are hoping to tackle abusive behaviour at the bar with the launch of a new initiative encouraging their peers to be “active bystanders”.

The All Rise project calls on barristers to speak up when they see “abusive, bullying and belittling behaviour” at work.

It follows recent controversy about the bar disciplinary tribunal handing down lenient sanctions for sexual misconduct.

Four barristers are behind the project: Bo Kay Fung from the Financial Conduct Authority, Chris Gutteridge of Exchange Chambers, Lydia Pemberton of 3 Paper Buildings and Morayo Fagborun Bennett of Hardwicke.

The foursome want their learned friends to “step up and actively create a better culture through standing up and speaking against bullying, harassment, belittling and discriminatory behaviour”.

They’ve designed an All Rise pin badge (pictured below) for barristers to wear as a visible indication that they won’t have it, and are prepared to step in to support victims. The pin (eco-friendly, naturally) comes with a bookmark with the project’s aims. The organisers hope that 25% of barristers will eventually sport the pins.

The All Rise pin badge

Actually producing that many will cost £5,000, which the group is fundraising for. The project has raised £1,800 so far, with silks Jo Delahunty, Jaime Hamilton and Brie Stevens-Hoare (below) among the early contributors.

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All Rise co-founder Gutteridge explained the thinking behind the initiative:

“There have been a number of decisions handed down by Bar Disciplinary Tribunals in recent months concerning sexual assault and harassment by barristers. The details of one of those cases suggested that the offending barrister acted in the presence of other barristers without fear of repercussions. In fact, the junior barrister he assaulted said that she felt unable to say anything whilst she was being assaulted because she did not want to make a scene in front of senior members of the bar who were present at that event. This is, in a word, appalling. It casts a shadow over the whole profession”.

He added: “We appreciate this is a small first step on the long road to tackling a very big problem, but nevertheless, we think it will create more ‘active bystanders’ at the Bar and act as a visual deterrent to potential abusers.”

Bar disciplinary bods are recommending tougher penalties for abusive behaviour, acknowledging the outcry over the perceived leniency of existing guidelines. Under proposals put forward last month, sexual misconduct, discrimination and non-sexual harassment would all attract a minimum sanction of 12 months’ suspension.

The Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service says that this would be “a significant increase in the recommended sanctions as compared to the current Guidance”. A consultation on the move runs until 14 June 2021.

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7 Comments

Wokery ruins everything

Yes, everyone knows that professions flourish when any misconstrued comment may ruin your career. More woke victimhood is just what the bar needs, lets not worry about underfunding for certain areas of the bar or the huge number of students who pay 18k and never stand a chance of getting pupillage… lets focus on stopping people from saying hurty words.

Also, £1800… there seems to be a real appetite for this initiative..

(31)(9)

Cringe

Zero empathy. A belief that spending £18,000 equals an entitlement to practice law professionally. Thinking employment tribunal clients who contribute to your mortgage are merely upset over ‘hurty words’.

This is exactly why these initiatives at the Bar are desperately needed.

(15)(26)

Me

The woke do demand “empathy” by which they really mean “agreement with us”. I’ll pass on the crowdfunding too.

(24)(5)

Anon

Presumably this will not be worn in Court. It would be entirely inappropriate to do so.

(21)(3)

Cantabeast

Pretty sure there’s a massive difference between sexual misconduct and “belittling behaviour” so not sure why they’re trying to equate the two. If you’re crying over someone giving some harsh feedback then just grow up.

(19)(2)

Ordinary Bloke

These are people who use the word “triggered” and complain ordinary right-minded people do not have “empathy”. As the wonderful success of Boris and Brexit show, the average Brit thinks they are talking nonsense. Sadly the leftist metropolitan woke have too much influence over the legal profession, for now at least. Hopefully good old common sense will prevail sooner than later and they can all trigger off.

(13)(2)

Anonymous

Most people don’t think sanctions are lenient, but a small vocal minority do.

(4)(0)

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