Employment news, Research perspectives

Rise in cases of bullying and harassment of Barristers blamed on work-related pressures

The Bar Council’s Barristers’ Working Lives 2017: Harassment and bullying Report records that 21% of employed and 12% of self-employed barristers have personally experienced harassment and bullying, and 16% of employed and 13% of self-employed barristers have experienced discrimination at work. In both case this shows an increase over the previous survey in 2013.

Half of those reporting experience of bullying or harassment, and 47% of those reporting experience of discrimination, cited another barrister or colleague as responsible. The most common form of bullying/harassment reported was based on gender.

More respondents reported observations than direct experience; 30% of employed and 17% of self-employed barristers said they had observed bullying or harassment. Additionally, 20% of employed and 15% of self-employed barristers said they had observed discrimination in their workplace.

These figures add to ongoing concerns about barristers’ working conditions, with the Bar Council research finding that barristers are struggling with high workloads and stress due to cuts to legal aid, with many working the equivalent of two days a week unpaid.

The Bar Council offers a confidential helpline, training and other support to individuals and chambers and is working with the Bar Standards Board to ensure rules about reporting encourage chambers and others to call out and deal with unacceptable behaviour