A lawyer who was called to the Bar in 1977 has been fined and reprimanded after describing female barristers as ‘hysterical’ and ‘overemotional’.
Feliks Kwiatkowski, who specialises in consumer and personal injury law, was fined £500 and reprimanded for acting “in a way which was likely to diminish the trust and confidence which the public places in a barrister”.
This is a breach of Core Duty 5 of the Bar Standards Board Handbook.
The reprimand came after Kwiatkowski, during discussions with opposing counsel at a tribunal in Worthing county court in 2019, described the witness statement as that of a “hysterical woman”, referring to the female legal executive who had drafted it for his opposing female barrister.
He went on to say: “I have been practising since before this century. When more women joined the profession, the ground shifted. You do get stupid and unreasonable men in the profession, but the ground shifted. The number of incidents of overegging the pudding and just going overboard in a routine situation multiplied.”
Diversity in law
The opposing barrister, who is referred to as Person X in the Bar Tribunal’s decision, sought clarification on whether he meant women were “intemperate”. Kwiatkowski replied that “yes, that was the word, intemperate”.
She told the tribunal that she had heard inappropriate comments about women from other members of the Bar before, but had “never encountered someone who explained at such length and so calmly why they thought women were ill-suited to the legal profession”.
A witness who was present at the tribunal said that Kwiatkowski had overstepped the mark, adding that “it went beyond a professional public disagreement between two members of the profession and strayed into one of a more hectoring and bullying nature.”
Kwiatkowski will also have to pay £500 in legal costs for the disciplinary hearing, to be paid within 28 days of the appeal period expiring.