The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has fined a senior partner for inappropriately touching a paralegal, when drunk at a bar.

Julian Critchlow, 63, was the senior partner at eponymous firm Al Bawardi Critchlow Solicitors (now Costigan King) at the time of the incident in 2018. He had been drinking at a wine bar during lunch and stayed there into the evening. Various colleagues joined him at the bar during his marathon vino session. Witnesses said that Critchlow was "extremely drunk" and was seen spilling wine on other people and slurring his speech. 

A female paralegal, who had joined the firm recently and was supervised by Critchlow, became the subject of the partner's attentions. The senior partner touched her leg on more than one occasion, rubbed her back and kissed the back of her neck, the tribunal was told, according to a report.

Critchlow's display of unwanted affection was particularly uncomfortable as colleagues and a client were seated at the same table. The paralegal asked her co-workers that night how the incident might affect her job prospects, according to witnesses. 


octoman

"Anyone for drinks?"


The matter was reported to the firm, and Critchlow apologised to the paralegal. It was arranged for another partner to become her supervisor. But the paralegal left the firm the following month after signing a non-disclosure agreement. Critchlow paid £13,000 for a settlement agreement.

Critchlow self-reported his misconduct, and the SRA brought the matter before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Critchlow's barrister, Alexandra Felix, told the tribunal that the paralegal had not been forced out by what happened, and said the incident had not hampered her career. The paralegal decided not to give evidence at the hearing.

Felix said that Critchlow had made full admissions about his conduct from the start and before the SRA investigated the matter. Character witnesses were "surprised and shocked" that Critchlow had acted in this manner, said Felix, who described the partner's actions towards the paralegal as "inept and bumbling".

The SDT has heard other harassment matters in recent times, including the well-publicised cases of Ryan Beckwith and Gary Senior. Felix sought to distinguish Critchlow's behaviour from other cases, as she argued that the paralegal was not alone with the partner. She also said that Critchlow did not appreciate what he was doing because of his inebriated state.

Critchlow said he remembered little of what had happened, but admitted that he had failed to act with integrity and failed to act in a way which maintains trust in the profession. The tribunal noted that Critchlow had self-reported and fully apologised. But the panel also said it had "considerable sympathy" for the paralegal who must have been "appalled and upset" by the incident.

The tribunal fined Critchlow £10,000 .

 

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Comments

Dearie 31 July 20 10:17

"paralegal decided not to give evidence at the hearing" - that'll be because of the NDA then.

"oh but I was drunk". No mate, you chose to drink yourself to oblivion in front of clients and colleagues and damn the consequences.

Anonymous 31 July 20 11:26

So NQ leaves files on a train (accidentally) and is struck off.... Partner intentionally sexually assaults paralegal and is fined likely less than a month drawings. 

Nice one the SDT - justice! 

Inmate 31 July 20 12:54

Dang, I think I know who the female was, but paid 13,000 that’ll definitely work as a deposit at a London home

Arachnae 31 July 20 13:13

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4087636/solicitor-58-barged-commuters-tube-station-assaulted-woman-unprovoked-attack.html

Human 31 July 20 15:26

In many criminal sentencing guidelines, drink is an aggravating and not a mitigating factor. I would give significant credit for self reporting though. I think £10,000 is still far too low when measured against the Gary Senior case. I think £25,000 is about right. 

The flip side is that there is an absolute epidemic of alcoholism and binge drinking and the Law Society could and should do far more to commission then publish advice on managing the problem. Partners taking a leave of several months to sort themselves out should be far more normal and acceptable  than it is at present.

Anonymous 01 August 20 10:22

@ Anonymous 01 August 20 06:21

 They like the wealth that men in their fifties have accumulated and their relatively slight sexual needs.

There are some exceptions of course, but very few of them are pot-bellied, unkempt, self-absorbed drunks.  Keanu Reeves?  Yes.  Overweight, self-absorbed drunk?  No.

Anonymous 01 August 20 10:40

@Anonymous 01 August 20 06:21

Your estimation is off the chart. There aren't that many with such terrible daddy issues. 

Anonymous 01 August 20 14:32

There are a variety of things they like 10.22, and there are millions of them. And not all women who like older men are overweight self-absorbed drunks.

Anonymous 01 August 20 16:45

From the article it sounds as if the paralegal decided not to give evidence because she wasn't forced out and it didn’t hamper her career rather than because of the NDA Dearie, but had she willingly entered into an NDA to resolve the matter and then not given evidence that would have been her right to do so.

Anonymous 01 August 20 21:11

@ Anonymous 01 August 20 14:32

And how did you come by this knowledge of the secret thoughts of millions of women?

By watching all those films and tv shows where 25 year old women cop off with 65 year old men?  I don't know how to sugar this pill but those are fantasies.

Anonymous 01 August 20 21:46

It wasn't come across, its a fact that millions of women are attracted to (and dating, and happily married to) men significantly older than them. You might not like it, but its the undeniable truth.

Anonymous 01 August 20 23:41

The struck off NQ was certainly treated unfairly, 31st at 11.26. There was no sexual assault in the case here though.

Anonymous 02 August 20 21:23

Using alcohol to excuse your true nature - isn't that called "the Mel Gibson defence"?

I wonder how long it will be before he turns up in front of the magistrate or the SRA again.

Baz 03 August 20 12:11

Yeah, there are some women who go for guys older AND richer than them, but it has to be significantly richer. As in, MC partner-level rich, not glorified high street bucketshop partner-level "rich". There's a major difference in salary.

At the MC firm I was a paralegal at, those sorts of age gap relationships weren't entirely uncommon, but I've never seen them anywhere else so commonly.

Anonymous 03 August 20 13:12

It happens all over Baz, not just at MC. Money is often a factor, but not always. And the older man isn't always significantly richer.

Anonymous 03 August 20 13:28

People say Homer Simpson is everyman but I say no.  It's Randy Marsh.

Hang on a minute.  Homer Simpson is a loveable doofus.  Randy Marsh is a bit of an asshole.

Oh....

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