The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has published its judgment on Ryan Beckwith after finding in October that he had acted without integrity by engaging in sexual acts with a drunk junior lawyer. The judgment reveals the tribunal's reasons for fining but not banning the ex-Freshfields partner.
During the hearing last year Beckwith conceded that sexual activity took place between him and Person A (a junior female lawyer in his team), claiming it was a mutual mistake and a "consensual sexual encounter between two adults". Person A told the tribunal that she was so intoxicated she could not consent.
In its judgment, the SDT said that Beckwith "caused harm to the reputation of the profession" and "significant harm" to Person A. But the tribunal went on to say that Beckwith's conduct was caused "by a lapse in his judgment that was highly unlikely to be repeated". It also considered his actions to be a "one-off incident" and also said there was no suggestion that Beckwith had "coerced or manipulated Person A".
The SDT said that it did not consider that Beckwith "posed a future risk to the reputation of the profession". And that his "misconduct would not shake the public's perception of his ability to properly represent their concerns were he to be instructed".
Beckwith heading in the opposite direction to after-work drinks. How it might look in the future.
The tribunal ruled that a fine, rather than a ban, was "appropriate and proportionate in the circumstances".
The SDT fined Beckwith £35,000 and ordered that he pay £200,000 in costs. Beckwith resigned from Freshfields just before the tribunal delivered its findings last October.
The SRA has 21 days from the publication date on 4 February should it wish to appeal.
The judgment can be read on the SDT's website.