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18 October 2019

Was the SRA’s ruling too lenient in recent sexual misconduct case?

In a recent high-profile ruling from the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SRA) former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Ryan Beckwith was fined for engaging in sexual activity with a junior employee. However, it has been argued that the £35,000 fine and £200,000 costs bill were too lenient, due to the fact that this case was not treated as a criminal prosecution.

Anthony Hanratty, senior associate in BDB Pitmans’ white collar crime and investigations team, discusses the reasoning behind this:

‘The SRA is a professional regulator, so questions will be asked as to whether it should be prosecuting conduct which in effect amounts to serious sexual/criminal offences’.

He points out that a complaint of a serious sexual assault might not be made to the police ‘for myriad reasons’, which means, as in this case, no criminal prosecution is started.

‘The SRA may then find itself having to step into the breach in prosecuting these cases to ensure that such conduct is properly dealt with and to main the public’s trust in the profession’.

The full article is available to subscribers of The Times, here.

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