The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has today welcomed the report published earlier this week by the Women and Equalities Commons Select Committee.
Speaking in relation to sexual harassment at the Bar, BSB Director-General Dr Vanessa Davies said:
“We welcome the Select Committee’s report. We agree with the Committee that regulators must make clear that sexual harassment will result in serious sanctions and that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) should not be used to silence its victims.
“The Bar Standards Board is already working in partnership with the Bar Council and the profession on this issue and we share the Committee’s determination to address sexual harassment at the Bar. In 2016, we published an extensive survey of women at the Bar, to which around a quarter of practising women barristers had responded. That survey found that over 40% had faced some form of harassment (including sexual harassment) during their careers but that fewer than 20% had reported it.
“As the Committee’s report says, we are now preparing to issue guidance on NDAs. We are also reviewing relevant sections of our Handbook, which already makes very clear that harassment is a form of serious misconduct. So barristers (with a few important exceptions) are obliged to report harassment to us if they are aware of it. It is already our practice not to sanction barrister victims for failing to report harassment, but we would strongly encourage them to do so.”
More information about how the BSB is working with the profession to make further progress in eliminating the discrimination, harassment and other unfair treatment of female barristers is available here.