13 August 2020



Sexual Harassment

Professional Misconduct / Regulatory

Misconduct and Regulatory Matters

Sexual Misconduct / Harassment

Freshfields partner sent list of concerns over her conduct in UBS rape case, reports FT

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) has sent a list of concerns to a partner at Magic Circle law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer regarding her conduct during a review of UBS’s handling of a rape case concerning Ms. A, for whom Farore Law acted.

Caroline Stroud, described by the Financial Times as “one of the UK’s most powerful employment litigation lawyers”, was hired by UBS to conduct the review into the way in which the bank investigated Ms. A’s complaint of rape by a colleague. The report concluded that UBS had made no “fundamental errors”.

Ms. A alleged that Ms. Stroud misled her regarding what Freshfields would need from her for its report. Ms. A alleged that Ms. Stroud informed her Freshfields did not act for UBS and that Ms. Stroud failed to properly explain that the final report would be a privileged document that Ms. A would not be allowed to see.

During the case, Ms. A revealed that she had recorded her initial conversation with Ms. Stroud, in which Ms. Stroud is shown to have told her, “We’re not their lawyers“. Ms. Stroud contested Ms. A’s account of the meeting, arguing that Ms. A had taken quotes out of context (see our previous article, “Freshfields partner still being investigated for review of UBS rape claim, RollOnFriday reports”).

The Financial Times has reported that the SRA has demanded an explanation from Ms. Stroud regarding a series of allegations in an “explanation with warnings” letter in July. If satisfied with the explanations, the regulator may cease its investigation if it finds that no misconduct has taken place. Otherwise, it may impose its own sanctions, or refer the case to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

In a statement sent to the Financial Times, Farore Law’s former client said: “It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment on the specifics due to potential SRA proceedings. But I will say that this practice of ‘hired guns’ is a particularly unpleasant – and ethically bankrupt – corner of the legal industry. I would question whether the use of lawyers – and their cloak of legal privilege – has any place in ‘independent’ investigations.

A spokesperson for the SRA said: “We are investigating before deciding on any next steps. Our work on this matter continues, but we cannot discuss any details about our work while it is ongoing.

UBS declined to comment to the Financial Times on this matter.

Source: Financial Times

In addition to having advised Ms. A, Farore Law will shortly release a webinar covering the issues that arose in her case, including the matters discussed above. Further updates will be published on the firm’s website and social media channels.

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