Professionals have long been warned of the pitfalls of posting on increasingly accountable social media platforms. The Bar Standards Board has made these risks abundantly clear by suspending a barrister for 10 months for making 'offensive and disparaging' comments about a member of the public on Facebook. The move follows guidance published in October by that same body on social media usage by its members. As the BSB reminds its members: 'the inherently public nature of the Internet means that anything you publish online may be read by anyone and could be linked back to your status as a barrister'.
The often combative nature of public social media pages make them a less than ideal medium for legal professionals, whose very job it is to instil the public with confidence in their ability to resolve disputes with composure, skill and good judgement. It will be interesting to see whether the SRA updates its own guidance in light of its new Standards & Regulations, which come into force on 25th November. As the digital revolution propels us into the next decade, this is a problem that will continue to haunt professional bodies for the foreseeable future.
A barrister who posted offensive comments on social media about a member of the public has been suspended from practice for 10 months. Richard Miles, called to the bar by Gray’s Inn in 1997, was found by a disciplinary tribunal to have acted in that was likely to diminish the trust and confidence the public places in him or in the profession.