Barristers have been warned to avoid “heated” social media spats in both “a professional and personal capacity” in new guidance issued by the Bar Standards Board, which regulates barristers in England and Wales.
The guidance warns barristers: “Comments designed to demean or insult are likely to diminish public trust and confidence in the profession. It is also advisable to avoid getting drawn into heated debates or arguments. Such behaviour could compromise the requirements for barristers to act with honesty and integrity and not to unlawfully discriminate against any person. You should always take care to consider the content and tone of what you are posting or sharing. Comments that you reasonably consider to be in good taste may be considered distasteful or offensive by others.”
The guidance is a welcome reminder that professionals risk not only their personal reputations but their livelihoods if they promote racist or similarly offensive material.
In 2016, neo-Nazi barrister ian Millard was disbarred for a series of antisemitic tweets.