A reminder for barristers at Christmas parties
The bar disciplinary tribunal has fined a male barrister for telling a junior female colleague that he wanted to smack her bottom, and then proceeding to do just that.
Dominic Woolard was a criminal barrister at 9KBW when the incident occurred at the Chambers Christmas party in 2018. The tribunal said that during the event, Woolard held a junior female lawyer, referred to as A, "by or around the neck...while saying to her 'I really wanted to smack your arse', or words to that effect". The tribunal said that "A did not consent to the touching", which was "sexual", and "Woolard did not reasonably believe that A consented."
Woolard then slapped A on the bottom, causing her physical pain, and pulled her onto his lap. Woolard's "unwanted conduct of a sexual nature...had the purpose or effect of violating A's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or otherwise environment" for the female colleague, found the tribunal.
The tribunal ruled that Woolard's conduct had undermined his integrity and diminished public trust in the profession. He was slapped with a fine of £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,600.
"I can confirm that Mr Woolard was formerly a member of 9 King’s Bench Walk," said a spokeswoman for the Chambers. "As soon as the matter was brought to Chambers’ attention an internal investigation was commenced, in accordance with our grievance and harassment policies, during the course of which Mr Woolard resigned from Chambers. At the conclusion of the investigation, Heads of Chambers made a referral to the Bar Standards Board."
RollOnFriday was unable to track down Woolard for comment.
It's been a bad week for handsy barristers. The bar disciplinary tribunal found that Craig Tipper of East Anglian Chambers intentionally touched two people in a "sexual' way, with neither person consenting to the touching, and Tipper not reasonably believing that there was consent. The tribunal suspended him for three months.
The tribunal's reasoning has not yet been released, and so exact details of Tipper's actions remain unclear. A Bar Standards Board spokesman said that the suspended barrister's conduct "is entirely unacceptable and our decision to bring charges of professional misconduct against Mr Tipper demonstrates our commitment to taking action against such behaviour by members of the Bar".
Neither East Anglian Chambers or Tipper responded to a request for comment.