Ex-Dentons trainee wins misconduct appeal over ‘sexualised’ Christmas card

‘Disgraceful’ feedback made to fellow rookie have been a personal reasonably than a piece matter, adjudicator finds

Picture through Unsplash

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) has overturned a disciplinary discovering towards a then trainee solicitor who gave a colleague a sexually express Christmas card.

Adam Fouracre, then a trainee at world regulation agency Dentons, was initially issued with a broadcast rebuke over the “inappropriate sexualised references”.

However the tribunal discovered that the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) had not established that Fouracre’s “disgraceful” behaviour had something to do with public belief in authorized providers suppliers.

Fouracre started his coaching contract at Dentons in August 2018 and the incident befell in December. The agency had beforehand given Fouracre a warning over an “inappropriate comment” in direction of some secretaries.

Bosses then acquired a grievance from one other trainee, KB, who was on secondment from one other agency for six months. Fouracre gave her two presents together with a Christmas card which contained a reference to a vibrator and was signed off: “Wishing a sexy Yorkshire babe a great Christmas”.

KB returned the presents and reported the card. The SRA turned concerned and an adjudicator ultimately really helpful that Fouracre be rebuked, with the rebuke to be revealed, and must pay £600 in prices.

Fouracre appealed, basically arguing that this was a personal reasonably than work matter. He additionally mentioned that the card was a reference to a sexually suggestive remark that KB had made to him. She had additionally apparently advised mates a couple of days beforehand that she actually appreciated him.

The eight grounds of appeal included a reference to the case of Ryan Beckwith, the ex-Freshfields accomplice ultimately cleared {of professional} misconduct after a consensual “sexual encounter” with a junior colleague. In that case, the Excessive Court docket advised the SRA that misconduct guidelines “may reach into private life only when conduct that is part of a person’s private life realistically touches on her practise of the profession… or the standing of the profession”.

Deciding the appeal in Fouracre’s favour, the tribunal discovered that the adjudicator had put an excessive amount of retailer on the truth that he was bodily within the workplace when handing over the card:

“Applying the dicta in Beckwith, the Tribunal considered that the point at issue in this case was not the location at which the conduct occurred, and whether the conduct complained of took place in the office or out of the office as characterised by the Adjudicator. The key question to be addressed, in a proper application of Beckwith was whether the alleged breaches could with reason be closely tied to the guidance set out in the Solicitor’s Handbook.”

The panel agreed that Fouracre’s conduct had been “deeply inappropriate and disgraceful” and “impacted on his own personal reputation”. However the adjudicator had failed to determine that it amounted to skilled misconduct: “In her decision there was nothing to suggest that the Adjudicator had considered whether there was evidence which linked the Appellant’s giving of the Christmas card, to the provision of legal services, as required by Principle 6”.

Fouracre’s appeal was subsequently allowed, and the rebuke revoked with rapid impact.

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