Following on from our blog regarding sexual harassment allegations at the UN that is an issue many organisations are grappling with. The Solicitor Regulation Authority (SRA) has issued new guidance on sexual misconduct within law firms, but as with the UN's recommendations the guidance from the SRA may also be of assistance to other organisations
The purpose of the guidance is to:
• Understand the SRA’s approach to allegations of sexual misconduct, what behaviours are unacceptable and when they might become a regulatory matter.
• Identify the boundary between an individual’s behaviour in their private and professional life, where they might overlap and why the distinction is important.
• Understand the SRA’s expectations that firms will promote and ensure a workplace culture that does not tolerate sexual misconduct.
• Understand firms' obligations both when investigating these matters internally and reporting them to us.
The guidance reminds us how far a solicitor's regulatory obligations apply to both their professional and private lives.
The SRA has also taken the opportunity to update its guidance on Acting with Integrity as they see it as one of the most relevant core ethical values to be considered and applied in dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: 'We take reports of sexual misconduct seriously. These can be sensitive and difficult issues and we want to be clear about our expectations, not least for firms, as people often come to us because they are dissatisfied with the way their firm has dealt with their concerns.
'Importantly, as we said in 2020 the Beckwith judgment made it clear that it was "common sense" that upholding our principles of acting with integrity could reach into a solicitor's private life. So alongside, we are also publishing updated guidance on acting with integrity. I urge everyone to take time to read the new guidance.'
The guidance can be found at: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/guidance/sexual-misconduct/