High Court rejects barrister’s appeal against fine for calling opponent a ‘hysterical woman’

Decide dismisses argument that the sanction infringed on freedom of expression

A veteran barrister fined £500 for describing a feminine lawyer as a “hysterical woman” has failed in a High Court bid to overturn the sanction.

Feliks Jerzy Kwiatkowski was hauled up by the bar disciplinary tribunal earlier this yr for his “sexist and discriminatory” language at Worthing County Court in 2019, which additionally included a remark about girls being “intemperate”.

A senior decide has now rejected an appeal after a two-day listening to on the Royal Courts of Justice.

Talking forward of the listening to, Kwiatkowski framed the proceedings as a free speech problem. Because the son of refugees from then-Communist Poland, he noticed “the creeping advent of exactly the type of society from which his own parents fled”. His case was supported by the Free Speech Union.

The courtroom heard that the case raised a “significant issue of principle” and the sanction breached Kwiatkowski’s freedom of expression rights at frequent legislation and the European Conference. His barrister, Marc Beaumont, argued that the concept that girls are extra emotional than males “may be wrong and it may have been expressed in too much of a generalised way, but it was undoubtedly an opinion”.

The appeal arguments additionally included the proposition that Kwiatkowski was not “likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in you”, because the misconduct guidelines require, when there was no member of the general public inside earshot on the time.

However Mr Justice Choudhury held that there was no requirement for there to be a lay member of the general public bodily current to set off the general public confidence rule. He went on to explain the feedback as an “unambiguous slur”, in keeping with a report on the ex tempore ruling in the Law Society Gazette.

Commenting on the impact of the ruling, Beaumont informed Authorized Cheek:

“The things that citizens might permissibly say cannot be uttered by barristers outside court. The BSB and the tribunals can decide what we are permitted to say, projecting themselves into the mindset of the public, even when no member of the public is present to hear what is said.”

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