Equality & Diversity Policy
I am committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in my own policies, practices, and procedures, and in those areas in which I have influence.
This applies to my professional dealings with other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties.
I intend to treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of their disability, gender, marital status, age, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
In developing and implementing my anti-discrimination policy, I am committed to complying with the SRA Code of Conduct diversity and equality policies, and with all current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice.
In line with the SRA Code of Conduct, in the course of my professional dealings I will not discriminate, victimise, or harass groups of people on the grounds direct or indirect discrimination, harassment or victimisation based on age, disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation (“the forbidden grounds”), and will make reasonable adjustments to prevent those of my clients who are disabled from being disadvantaged in comparison with those who are not disabled.
Employment and training
I have no current employees, but before I am in the position to employ any person I will draw up and implement suitable policies to prevent discrimination that is contrary to law and any guidance published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
As a potential future employer, I will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not discriminate unjustifiably against them. This will include, for example, arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation, and any other employment related activities.
Barristers and third parties
Barristers will be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability. I will not, on any of the forbidden grounds, avoid briefing a barrister, and will not request barristers’ clerks to do so
Clients’ requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to the firm’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately
I will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister who is not disabled or who is of a particular gender, marital status, ethnicity, ethnic group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, or sexual orientation, be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within the exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, I will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions in so far as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, I will cease to act
Reasonable measures are in place to ensure that sound equality and diversity policies are in place with those from whom I purchases goods and services.
I am generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, but any refusal to act will not be based upon any of the forbidden grounds
I will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under the anti-discrimination legislation (particularly the Equality Act) and the SRA Code of Conduct 2011
In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the relevant anti-discrimination legislation (for example, provisions relating to positive action or exemptions), I will seek to provide services which meet the specific needs and requests arising from clients’ ethnic or cultural background, gender, responsibilities as carers, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or other similar factors
Complaints of discrimination
I will treat seriously, and will take action where appropriate concerning, all complaints of discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds made by clients, barristers, or other third parties
All complaints will be investigated in accordance with the firm’s grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome
Monitoring and review
The policy will be monitored and reviewed annually to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. Monitoring information will always be used in anonymous ways and treated with the highest level of confidentiality
In particular, I will, as appropriate (and with due deference to the relevant parties’ discretion as to whether or not to disclose such information), monitor and record:
-the age, sexual orientation, gender, and ethnic composition of the workforce and partners as well as the number of disabled staff and partners
-the age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts
-the ethnicity, gender, and disability of all applicants for promotion (including to partnership) and training opportunities, and details of whether they were successful
-where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the sexual orientation and religion or belief of all partners and staff will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them. Firms should, however, be aware that partners and staff may not choose to disclose their sexual orientation or religion or belief and that care should be taken to avoid inadvertent discrimination in such cases. This should apply equally to disability
-the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by staff, partners, barristers, clients, and other third parties
-the ethnicity, gender, and/or disability of any employees against whom disciplinary action is taken
This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the firm’s anti-discrimination policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.
Like all solicitors, I am obliged to comply with the SRA’s requirement to collect, report and publish its workforce diversity data at suitable intervals, at least annually. Given the size of the firm this will be done annually in December. This process is also useful to review my practices and procedures to avoid discriminatory practices within the practice and its dealings with clients and third parties.