Victims of sexual harassment by members of the NSW Bar are being urged to come forward in the wake of explosive allegations levelled against prominent Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet earlier this week.
President of the New South Wales Bar Association, Arthur Moses SC told New Matilda his organisation urged “any victims of sexual harassment by members of the NSW Bar to make a complaint to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner so that it can be investigated and in appropriate cases report the behaviour to Police”.
Mr Moses has also warned that barristers in NSW who engage in sexual harassment can be struck off and may face criminal charges.
“Sexual harassment is not condoned in any manner by the NSW Bar nor is standing by and not intervening,” he said.
“Tough sanctions are in place regarding sexual harassment by legal practitioners. Rule 123 of the Legal Profession Uniform Conduct (Barristers) Rules 2015 provides that a barrister must not engage in conduct which constitutes discrimination and sexual harassment in the course of practice.”
The NSW Bar Association has the power to intervene and investigate any complaints of sexual harassment. If a barrister’s conduct is found to constitute sexual harassment, they face serious consequences, including the loss of their profession.
“The breach of Rule 123 can result in findings of unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct and an order that a barrister be struck off,” Mr Moses said.
“Conduct of this kind may also amount to a criminal offence, a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board.”
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If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault or harassment support is available by calling 1800 424 017 and speaking to a qualified trauma counsellor at the NSW Rape Crisis Centre.