Ex-Eversheds Sutherland employee banned for sexual misconduct

Posted on Dec 07, 2023. by NTI

As Christmas approaches and the office Xmas party gets into full swing, the NTI newsroom report on a recent case which resulted in an employee being banned for sexual misconduct.

Jake Flint, a senior client development manager at Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP, has had restrictions put on him by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA). The restrictions imposed by the SRA come about following an investigation into events that occurred at the firm’s away day in July 2022.

The facts
The events leading to Mr Flint’s ban from working in a legal practice arise from his conduct during the firm’s away day on 12 July 2022.  The event involved socialising and an overnight stay at a hotel amongst colleagues from different Eversheds offices.

Whilst walking back to the hotel with colleagues after the event, Mr Flint touched and grabbed one of his colleagues’ breasts. Despite her protestations, Mr Flint continued to do so on 3 occasions. On each occasion, his colleague asked him to stop. When they arrived at the hotel, Mr Flint proceeded with putting his arm around the colleague’s waist and touching her bottom. The colleague once again asked him to stop, and another colleague stepped in and spoke with Mr Flint about his conduct.

Later that evening, when the colleague was ordering take away food with other colleagues, Mr Flint approached her again, placed his hand on her upper thigh and asked her if they were eating in his room or hers.  A month after the away day, Mr Flint left the firm.

SRA decision
Following the investigation, the SRA made a section 43(2) order pursuant to the Solicitors Act 1974. The order essentially means the Mr Flint is unable to work in legal practice without the SRA’s prior written approval. Speaking about Mr Flint’s ban, the SRA said that “This was because of the serious nature of his conduct in repeatedly touching his colleague in a sexual way without her consent and in making a comment to her of a sexual nature”.

This is not the first time that an Eversheds Sutherland employee has been barred under section 43. Trainee solicitor, Thomas Hagyard, was barred from the profession following a conviction of sexual assault of two women at a house party in 2018. Following a trial at Isleworth Crown Court, Mr Hagyard was sentenced to 8 years in prison and barred from the profession under s43 of the Solicitors Act 1974.

Professional ethical duties
Not only do the above cases serve as a stark reminder of our legal obligations but also our professional ethical duties, in particular the fundamental principle of “Professional Behaviour”. As professionals we are under a duty to avoid behaving in a way which may bring the profession into disrepute. This duty extends to our conduct outside of the workplace including conduct on social media and office social events.

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