Bullying and harassment at the bar have increased compared to previous years, according to the Bar Council, the barristers’ UK representative body in their latest ‘Barristers’ Working Lives 2017’ survey. According to a survey of barristers’ work, which surveyed over 4,000 barristers covering a range of questions on their daily working experiences, 21% of employed and 12% of self-employed barristers reported that they had personally experienced harassment or bullying at work in the last two years. This was an increase of 3% at the employed bar and 5% at the self-employed bar from the last survey in 2013. Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, said ‘The results are a cause for concern and cannot be ignored. As a profession, we must do much better. We do not and will not tolerate harassment and bullying at the bar. The Bar Council already offers a confidential helpline, training and other support to individuals and chambers. If any members of the Bar are facing harassment or being bullied, we urge them to use these services.’
There are a number of explanations for the increase, Gender was cited as the most common reason for unfavourable treatment, with 53% of respondents citing this as a reason, which is up 5% from 2013. More barristers in criminal practice, 18 per cent of respondents, reported experiences of harassment or bullying, compared with those in chancery and commercial practice, where it registered 8 per cent. At the self-employed bar, fellow barristers were most frequently reported as being responsible for the bullying, harassment or discrimination. However, the survey did not define what constitutes harassment, bullying and discrimination, thus leading answers respondents to self-define depending on their own perceptions. The International Bar Association is surveying its 80,000 members on whether they have experienced bullying or harassment in the workplace.