One in five employed barristers and more than one in ten at the self-employed Bar have been harassed or bullied at work, according to a Bar Council report.

Barristers’ Working Lives 2017: Harassment and bullying revealed that 21% of employed and 12% of self-employed barristers reported being harassed or bullied at work in the two years prior to the survey, up from 3% at the employed Bar and 5% at the self-employed Bar in 2013.

Almost a third of employed barristers and 17% of self-employed barristers said they had observed harassment or bullying of others, an increase of 9% and 8% respectively from 2013.

Reports of discrimination were also up, with 16% of employed and 13% of self-employed respondents stating that they had personally experienced discrimination and 20% and 15% respectively saying they had witnessed it.

Fellow barristers were most commonly cited as being responsible, accounting for around half of all acts of bullying, harassment or discrimination.

The report showed that harassment, bullying and discrimination was worst at the criminal Bar and the most common form was based on gender, accounting for 53% of instances, while 16% was based on ethnicity.

Bar Chair 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 offers a confidential helpline, training and other support to individuals and chambers and has published a work programme to tackle the problem. It is also working with the Bar Standards Board to ensure rules about reporting encourage chambers and others to address unacceptable behaviour. See here for more information.

See analysis in next issue.