The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal case against international firm Baker McKenzie and three of its former senior figures was today adjourned until the end of next April.
On the eleventh day of a hearing into allegations of misconduct, counsel finished cross examining Peter Strivens, a witness for Baker McKenzie and a former member of its management committee. Gary Senior, former London managing partner, and Thomas Cassels, former partner, have also faced the tribunal.
The hearing was initially listed for 15 days, to finish before Christmas. It has now been adjourned until 27 April 2020, when ex-head of HR Martin Blackburn will be questioned. Blackburn was unable to attend much of the hearing this month due to health reasons.
Barristers initially suggested that the hearing resume in September but the tribunal chair said this was ‘not acceptable’.
Richard Coleman QC, for Thomas Cassels, told the tribunal today that the firm was collectively to blame for ‘modest’ flaws in its investigation into a complaint that Senior had attempted to kiss a junior colleague in a hotel room in 2012.
He said: ‘It is my case is that, in so far as there were shortcomings… this was a collective failure for which the firm and a number of individuals were all responsible. If there’s blame to be apportioned it should be left at a number of doors.’
Former London managing partner Senior, admitted in 1986, is accused of trying to embrace and kiss a colleague identified as Person A in 2012 despite receiving no indication of consent, and persisting despite Person A indicating that it was not appropriate. Senior, who last year left Baker McKenzie, allegedly acted knowing he was in a position of authority and responsibility. He denies the allegation.
Thomas Cassels and Martin Blackburn, who were with Baker McKenzie in 2012 as a partner and head of HR respectively, are being prosecuted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in relation to the investigation that began when Person A made a complaint. The firm is also being prosecuted.