The SDT ordered that the respondent should pay a fine of £2,000.
• Application 11450-2015
• Admitted 1986
• Hearing 6 March 2017
• Reasons 20 March 2017
The respondent had directly discriminated against an individual (NVDB) on the grounds of religion and age and had perpetrated unlawful acts of harassment and victimisation, in breach of rule 6.01 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 by: sending, or causing to be sent, email correspondence to NVDB dated 23 December 2009, 11 March 2010 and 30 September 2010 which was discriminatory and which amounted to unlawful harassment on the grounds of age and religion; and authorising a request to be made of NVDB on 19 November 2010 that he should repay £5,615 in respect of previous practising certificate fees which amounted to an act of age victimisation.
In committing unlawful acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation, the respondent had behaved in a way that was likely to diminish the trust the public placed in him and the legal profession, contrary to rule 1.06 of the code.
The respondent’s motivation had been anger. He had not intended to discriminate against or victimise NVDB, although that had been the outcome. The misconduct had arisen from a dispute between two people who had been friends but whose relationship had become rancorous.
He was an experienced solicitor operating at partner and management level, but NVDB was similarly experienced and it was not a case of the respondent sending such emails to a subordinate. The respondent’s culpability was low.
Harm was always caused when a solicitor was found to have committed unlawful acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation. There would usually be great harm to the profession but in the context of the relationship between the respondent and NVDB, the harm was limited.
The seriousness of the misconduct justified a financial penalty.
The respondent was ordered to pay costs of £16,000.