December is almost upon us when the offers to attend parties are coming in thick and fast.

It’s a lovely time of year when we can all let our hair down and have some fun. Or is it?

The usual warnings about drink driving are as ever at the forefront.

Do think before you go for that drink after work and decide to drive home. If you do party until the small hours and sensibly get a taxi home, do be careful the morning after as alcohol may still be in your system. Roadside breath tests in a morning during December are not uncommon.

Alcohol related road accidents are on the rise and last year’s figures show that they were at their highest level since 2012.

Driving or attempting to drive whilst above the legal limit you may get:

6 months imprisonment;

An unlimited fine

A driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years)

The right thing to do is not drive at all if you are planning after works drinks.

On another note some of you may be aware of a finding by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in October which reached the headlines. I’m not going to name the individual here, I think he’s been through enough.

The finding essentially means that what you do in your private life is now open to scrutiny and sanctions as far as the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and Solicitors Regulation Authority are concerned. Despite them being a regulator, not a prosecuting body.

So do watch out if you are thinking of having any seasonal frivolities with colleagues this Christmas because it could find you in very hot water and not just with her/him indoors!

The case above related to a senior member of a firm who, after drinks “acted without integrity when he engaged in sexual activity with a junior colleague”.

The SRA “welcomed the SDT’s decision to find that he acted without integrity and in a way that diminishes the trust the public places in him and the profession.”

I ought to add here that there was no police prosecution for any criminal offence nor did the SDT find against the individual on the question of consent.

This area is relatively untested for legal regulators, but this is a turning point in the way the SRA addresses the boundary between private and working lives.

There must be thousands of married or cohabiting couples who have met through their workplace, I certainly know many. Have the regulators overstepped their own boundaries? A lot of people think so.

Let this be a word of warning before you head off to your Christmas parties, stay away from the Mistletoe and the photocopier. It might cost you more than you think.

This blog was written by:  Lynn Mahon

DISCLAIMER: Please note that this post sets out the general position under the general law. It should not be acted upon in any specific circumstances without taking specific legal advice as to those circumstances. Also, it should not be relied upon, acted upon or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. If you do require specific advice please contact us for assistance.

SRA ID Number: 539 811 | Ralli Solicitors LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales, company number 0C354973. Ralli Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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