A barrister involved in long-running litigation with the Bar Standards Board has had her race discrimination claims dismissed by the employment tribunal, after presenting them several years out of time.
According to the tribunal’s judgment, the case brought by Daphne O'Connor focused on the fact, conduct and outcome of an investigation into her conduct by the BSB following a complaint. While the complaint was initially upheld, it was subsequently quashed by visitors of the Inns of Court in 2012.
O’Connor also referred to the handling of two further complaints – which were ultimately dismissed a few weeks after the first complaint was overturned – and the publication of the outcome of the first complaint.
O’Connor wanted there to be no reference in public circulation that she had been charged with disreputable conduct or, at least, to ensure that internet searches for her name resulted in more balanced reporting and did not unduly prejudice her.
She alleged that that all of the above were, at least, tainted with race discrimination and that they amounted to conduct extending over a period to this day.
However, the employment tribunal dismissed the claims, stating they were all presented out of time and it was not just and equitable to extend the time limit. The claimant submitted her claim form in the tribunal proceedings in December 2018.
‘It seems to me that time must start running from around the end of March 2013 over five and a half years before the complaint was actually presented,’ Employment Judge Robin Leslie Broughton ruled.
The judgment added that while O'Connor gave reasons for the delay, 'it was also clear... that the claimant could have brought these proceedings sooner, given that she was able to pursue her appeal in the court proceedings and represent her clients in other cases, even with a restricted caseload, so it was a matter of priorities'.
O’Connor began her action against the BSB in the High Court in 2013, culminating in a decision by the Supreme Court in 2017. Proceedings are ongoing.