26 June 2020



Sexual Harassment

Professional Misconduct / Regulatory

Legal Professional Privilege

Freshfields partner still being investigated for review of UBS rape claim, RollOnFriday reports

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”) is continuing to investigate Freshfields partner Caroline Stroud over her handling of a review into a former UBS trainee’s allegations that she was raped by a UBS director, over a year after the SRA’s investigation began.

The former UBS trainee, known as “Ms. A” (and for whom Farore Law acted in Employment Tribunal proceedings), secretly recorded a meeting with Caroline Stroud, who was Freshfields’ Global HR Partner and head of its Global employment team at the time.

In 2018, UBS instructed Ms. Stroud to conduct an independent review into the manner in which the bank investigated Ms. A’s complaints. The report concluded that UBS had made no “fundamental errors”.

Ms. A alleged that Ms. Stroud misled her on a number of fronts during a meeting to discuss what Freshfields would need from Ms. A for its report. Although Ms. Stroud explained that Freshfields was being paid by UBS to produce the independent report, Ms. A alleged that Ms. Stroud informed her that the firm did not act for UBS and that Freshfields was not advising the bank.

Ms. A also claimed 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, and that she would only be able to access a two-page executive summary. The final version was circulated within UBS to at least a dozen employees (including the Head of Brand and Communications). An Employment Tribunal subsequently ruled that the report was not covered by privilege.

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 she had taken quotes out of context and that she had said as such because Freshfields were “newly appointed lawyers from Freshfields and not UBS’s normal advisors“.

An SRA spokesperson informed RollOnFriday: “We do not usually confirm or deny if we are investigating a complaint, it is only if action is necessary that it becomes a matter of public record”.

Source: RollOnFriday

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