A male barrister who described a legal executive as a ‘hysterical woman’ and said that women are ‘intemperate’ has been reprimanded and fined £500.
Feliks Kwiatkowski, who was called to the bar in 1977, expressed ‘sexist and discriminatory’ views to opposing counsel in a waiting room before a hearing at Worthing County Court, the Bar Tribunals & Adjudication Service (BTAS) found.
He said a witness statement drafted by opposing counsel’s client, a chartered legal executive, was the work of a ‘hysterical woman’ and explained that ‘this was just fact’, the tribunal heard.
Kwiatkowski then said: ‘I have been practising since before this century. When more women joined the profession, the ground shifted. You do get stupid and unreasonable men in the profession, but the ground shifted – the number of incidents of overegging the pudding and just going overboard in a routine situation multiplied.’
Kwiatkowski denied that he was talking about the profession as a whole, telling the tribunal that he was referring to ‘the solicitor end of the “afflicted zones of civil practice”’, and said that opposing counsel – referred to a Person X – had closed him down ‘very aggressively’.
Tribunal chair Jonathan Glasson QC said Kwiatkowski’s conduct was ‘undoubtedly a breach’ of barristers’ duty to not behave in a way which is likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in the profession, which amounted to misconduct.
He added that Kwiatkowski ‘has remained firmly of the view that what he said was entirely justified [and] remains implacable in his belief both as to the correctness of the views that he was expressing as well as his right to express them’.
‘This case is not about “policing the personal opinions of barristers” as a matter of generality,’ Glasson said. ‘It is concerned with the question as to whether or not expressing sexist and discriminatory language, in the course of a discussion outside court in a public waiting room and in the context of a discussion with a fellow barrister, is of such seriousness so as to amount to misconduct.’
Kwiatkowski was also ordered to pay £500 towards the Bar Standards Board’s costs.
Kwiatkowski told the Gazette that he will appeal against the decision at the High Court, adding that he had been ‘persecuted for expressing inconvenient truths that do not square with hard left dogma’.