26 September 2023

Portal to curb legal licentiousness

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The Legal Practice Board of Western Australia has launched an online portal where harassment and inappropriate behaviour in legal workplaces can be reported.

Speak Safely will allow anyone who has experienced or witnessed harassment or inappropriate behaviour by a lawyer or anyone else in legal workplaces to report it securely, confidentially, and even anonymously. It can be done through informal reports or formal complaints.

The Board has numerous options available when receiving reports and taking further action. It will depend on the level of detail provided, the wishes of the reporter, and the outcome of the Board’s assessment.

The Board may be obliged to inform other authorities depending on the nature and severity of a report.

Boards in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania, and South Australia have already introduced a similar system and are seeing positive results.

Attorney General, John Quigley said harassment and inappropriate behaviour — including sexual harassment — should not be tolerated in any workplace, including legal workplaces.

“Such behaviour is potentially a breach of professional obligations and may impact on a lawyer’s fitness to practice. It could amount to professional misconduct or unsatisfactory professional conduct, with specific disciplinary consequences,” Mr Quigley said.

“Harassment can also seriously affect the mental health, sense of security, work satisfaction and productivity of employees, clients, and others.”

He said the Speak Safely portal reflected the Legal Practice Board’s duty to protect the public and raise professional standards in the legal profession, and to promote integrity and positive cultural change in legal profession workplaces.

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