Equality and Diversity Policy

A. The firmís commitment

(1) General commitment

The firm is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policies, practices and procedures and in those areas in which it has influence. This applies to the firmís dealings with members of the firm (which in this policy shall include the firmís employees, partners and any self-employed person engaged by the firm) and other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties.

The firm will treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect and will not discriminate without lawful cause against any person, nor victimise or harass them on the grounds of their race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), gender (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity), sexual orientation (including civil partnership status), religion or belief, age or disability.

The firm will take such steps and make such adjustments as are necessary in all the circumstances in order to prevent any members of the firm and clients from being placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with those who are not disabled.

(2) Regulation and legislation

In implementing its equality and diversity policy, the firm will comply with the Solicitorsí Code of Conduct 2007 and with current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice and any relevant amendments or re-enactments of such legislation and any relevant amendment to such codes or further codes of practice including but not limited to:-

  1. The Equal Pay Act 1970
  2. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  3. The Race Relations Act 1976
  4. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  5. The Employment Rights Act 1996
  6. The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  7. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  8. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006

Also, any relevant amendments or re-enactments of such legislation:

  1. The Commission for Racial Equality code of practice for the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment (1983)
  2. The Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on sex discrimination; equal opportunities policies, procedures and practices in employment (1985)
  3. The Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on Equal Pay (2003)
  4. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 codes of practice in relation to rights of access to facilities, services and premises in employment
  5. The European Community code of practice on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work

And any relevant amendments to such codes or further codes of practice

(3) Forms of discrimination

The following are the kinds of discrimination, which are against the firm's policy:

  1. Direct discrimination, where a person is treated less favourably on the grounds of race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origins, sex, pregnancy, marital status, disability or sexual orientation or religion or belief.

  2. Indirect discrimination, where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice would put a substantially higher proportion of the members of one sex, or persons having a racial or ethnic origin, or a particular religion or belief, or a particular disability or a particular sexual orientation at a particular disadvantage compared with other persons unless that provision, criterion or practice is objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary

  3. Victimisation, where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has taken action against the firm under one of the relevant Acts.

  4. Harassment, when unwanted conduct related to any of the grounds referred to above takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may involve physical acts or verbal and non-verbal communications and gestures. This will include physical, verbal and non verbal acts

B. The firm as an employer

(1) As an employer, the firm will treat all members of the firm and job applicants equally and fairly and not discriminate unlawfully against them. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary

(2) Recruitment and selection

This firm recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:

  1. it endeavours to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates possible;
  2. employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merits;
  3. where appropriate positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are under represented in the workforce;
  4. selection criteria and processes do not discriminate on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above;
  5. all recruitment agencies acting for the firm are aware of its requirement not to discriminate and to act accordingly.

(3) Conditions of service

The firm will create a working environment which is free from discrimination, victimization and harassment and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of members of the firm.

Terms and conditions of service for members of the firm will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not discriminate against any member of the firm on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above. Where appropriate and necessary, the firm will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of members of the firm.

(4) Targets

The firm will use its best endeavours to comply with Law Society policies and targets for the employment of ethnic minorities, as are produced from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the anti-discrimination legislation

(5) Promotion and career development

Promotion within the firm will be made without reference to any of the prohibited grounds referred to above and will be based solely on merit. The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group. Whilst positive action measures may, where lawful, be taken in accordance with relevant anti-discrimination legislation to encourage members of under-represented groups to apply for promotion opportunities, recruitment or promotion to all jobs will be based solely on merit. All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, the firm will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for members of groups which are under-represented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career opportunities.

(6) Partners

Arrangements and procedures for selecting partners, their terms and conditions of partnership, access to benefits, facilities or services and termination arrangements will be reviewed and amended where necessary to prevent discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds. Maternity rights available to partners shall be no less favourable that those required by legislation for employees.

C. Barristers and other third parties

(1) Barristers

Barristers should be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability. The firm will not, on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above, avoid briefing a barrister and will not request barristersí clerks to do so. Clientsí requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to the firmís duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately. The firm will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister who is (for example) not disabled or who is of a particular gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, age, or sexual orientation be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within any exemptions permitted by the anti-discrimination legislation, the firm will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions insofar as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the firm will cease to act.

(2) Suppliers

All lists, if any, of approved suppliers and databases of contractors, agents and other third parties who, or which, are regarded as suitable to be instructed by those within the firm have been or will be compiled only on the basis of the ability of those persons or organisations to undertake work of a particular type and do not or will not contain discriminatory exclusion, restriction or preference.

D. Clients

The firm is 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 prohibited grounds referred to above. The firm will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under anti-discrimination legislation. In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the relevant anti-discrimination legislation (for example, provisions relating to positive action or exemptions) the firm will seek to provide services which meet the specific needs and requests arising from clientsí ethnic or cultural background, age, gender, responsibilities as carers, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or other relevant factors.

E. Promoting equality and diversity

This firm is committed to promoting equality and diversity in the firm as well as in those areas in which it has influence. Members of the firm will be informed of this policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities. All those who act on the firmís behalf will be informed of this equality and diversity policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on the firmís behalf. In all its dealings, including those with suppliers, contractors and recruitment agencies, the firm will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity. The firm will make every effort to reflect its commitment to equality and diversity in its marketing and communication activities.

F. Implementing the Policy

(1) Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the partners of the firm. The firm has appointed Katharine Summers to be responsible for the operation of the policy. All members of the firm are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of this policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing the firm. Any breach of this policy by members of the firm, acts of discrimination or harassment on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above by employees or partners of the firm will result in disciplinary action, including termination of services where appropriate.

(2) Complaints of discrimination

The firm will treat seriously and will take action where appropriate concerning all complaints of discrimination or harassment on any of the prohibited grounds referred to above or breaches of this policy made by members of the firm, clients, barristers or other third parties. All complaints will be investigated in accordance with the firmís grievance, disciplinary and/or complaints procedures and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.

(3) Monitoring and review

This policy will be monitored and reviewed in a manner proportionate to the size and nature of the firm on a regular basis to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. In particular, the firm will, as appropriate (but without requiring any member of the firm to provide information should they not wish to do so), monitor and record:

(a) The gender and ethnic composition of members of the firm, as well as the number of disabled staff, at different levels of the firm.

(b) The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts.

(c) The ethnicity, gender and disability of all applicants for promotion (including to partnership and to the role of a member of a limited liability partnership) and training opportunities and details of whether they were successful.

(d) 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 members of the firm will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them.

(e) The number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by members of the firm, barristers, clients and other third parties.

(f) The disciplinary action (if any) taken against members of the firm by race, gender and disability.

This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the equality and diversity policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.

G. Application and status of this policy

(1) This policy is not part of any contract of employment or partnership agreement and may be changed at any time.

(2) Notwithstanding the above, it is a requirement of the firm that all members of the firm comply with this policy and with the provisions of Rule 6.01 of the Solicitorsí Code of Conduct 2007.

H. Publication of this policy

Every member of the firm will receive a copy of this policy and it will be available on request to any client and to the Solicitorsí Regulation Authority. A copy of the policy will be included on the firmís website.

Solicitors Regulation Authority