Policy on Equality and Diversity

This firm ensures that it is dedicated to implementing all current and future anti-discrimination, equality and diversity policies and legislations; this applies to all of the firm’s proceedings and professional dealings with employee’s, partners, other legal professionals (solicitors and barristers), clients, applicants and third parties.

This firm has special regard to eliminating all forms of discrimination against the following grounds of age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins); religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation.

1- Our Commitment

This firm is committed to complying with the principles of equality and diversity, as held within Chapter 2 of the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct 2011 and it prohibits any form of discrimination based on any of the Protected Characteristics held in section 4 of the Equality Act 2010:

a) race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
b) sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
c) sexual orientation;
d) religion or belief;
e) age; or
f) disability.

We guarantee that all reasonable adjustments will be carried out to protect these characteristics and prevent any discriminatory circumstances arising with regards to all members of staff, employee’s, partners, other legal professionals (solicitors and barristers), clients, applicants and third parties. We encourage all individuals to inform of us of ways that we can improve our policies and how we can help support you further by making the appropriate adjustments.

2- Forms of Discrimination

There is a variety of different forms of discrimination, the following are a list of the types of discrimination that are against our firm’s policy:

Direct Discrimination: where an individual is treated less favourably based on the grounds that: they fall under one of the Protected Characteristics or they are assumed to have a protected characteristic.

Indirect Discrimination: where a condition, requirement or practice is applied equally to all groups, but a substantially higher proportion of people with Protected Characteristics suffer a greater disadvantage compared to others; unless this condition, requirement or practice can be justified by the need to achieve an appropriate and necessary legitimate aim.

There is also another form of indirect discrimination relating to discrimination by association, this is where an individual is discriminated against for being linked or related to another who falls under the Protected Characteristics.

Harassment: where one individual ‘engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic, that has the purpose or effect of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’ to another, this relates to section 26 of the Equality Act 2010.

Harassment can be verbal or physical, but it can also involve non-verbal communication or gestures; there are three forms of harassment:

    • Harassment relating to a Protected Characteristic;
    • Sexual Harassment, and;
    • Less favourable treatment due to rejecting or submitting to sexual harassment.

All forms of harassment are not tolerated.

Victimisation: where an individual is treated less favourably by an employer due to carrying out ‘Protected Actions’ for example, they have raised a complaint, given evidence or information in proceedings against their employer for breach of grounds covered by the Equality Act 2010; these proceedings relate to section 27 of the Equality Act 2010 relating to discrimination and harassment.

3- Employment and Training procedures:

Upon recruitment, this firm treats all applicants and employee’s equally, individuals will not be asked questions regarding Protected Characteristics such as ‘Disabilities’, unless the job role has a legitimate reason to ask.

All individuals are subject to specific procedures without discrimination, of which include: Equal opportunities, terms and conditions of employment, dress codes, work allocations, access to training, promotions, grievance, disciplinary processes, redundancies, bonus schemes and many more.

4- Partners:

Our firm ensures that individuals with Protected Characteristics will not be discriminated against when selecting partners. We ensure that discrimination is eliminated in this area by constantly developing and reviewing terms and conditions of firm partnerships, with specific regards to benefits of partnership, facilities, services and termination arrangements that are offered.

5- Third Parties (including other Barristers and Solicitors):

Third parties will all be subject to the same fair treatment and will not be subject to grounds of discrimination based on their Protected Characteristics.

Third parties, such as expert witnesses, suppliers, agents etc. are approved by the firm if they have complied with ability to be able to sufficiently supply goods or services in their specific area of expertise, there will be no restriction or preferences placed upon them when being assessed.

Barristers and Solicitors also fall under this category, they will both be selected based on their experience and skill, neither will be subject to additional briefing on the basis of any Protected Characteristics.

If a Client has specifically requested a named Barrister or Solicitor, the Firm has a duty to assess and discuss their suitability with the Client, without a legitimate reason to refuse the Firm cannot go against the Client’s wishes if they refuse to change their choices.

6- Our Clients:

The Firm is within its power to decide what cases to accept however, refusal of a client cannot be based on the basis of a Protected Characteristic.

We also certify that all obligations covered by Rule 6 the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct Equality and Diversity and all Anti- Discrimination Legislation are followed correctly.

7- The Promotion of Equality and Diversity (Rule 6)

We ensure that all members of staff such as employee’s and partners are informed of the Equality and Diversity Policy; this policy will also be disclosed to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Clients and Third Parties when necessary.

Throughout all dealings and proceedings carried out by the Firm, we ensure that Equality and Diversity are promoted.

8- Policy Implementation:

a) Responsibility:

    • It is the Firms Responsibility to ensure that this policy is recognised sufficiently. This Firm has appointed The Principal the sole responsibility for implementing, monitoring, developing, evaluating and communicating this policy.
    • All members of staff are expected to abide and have due regard to the provisions held in this policy; they must all comply with these provisions when undertaking their roles or representing this Firm.
    • All partners and managers bear the responsibility to lead by example.
    • Employee’s and Partners – Failure to comply by carrying out actions of discrimination or harassment against those with Protected Characteristics will be classed as a breach of this policy, as a result the Firm may have to carry out disciplinary actions.
    • Those Acting on Behalf of the Firm – Failure to comply by carrying out actions of discrimination or harassment against those with Protected Characteristics will be classed as a breach of this policy, will lead to necessary actions such as termination of service.

b) Complaints:

    • Any complaint of discrimination or harassment made by all members of staff (employee’s/partners), clients and third parties (including suppliers, barristers and solicitors), will be treated with the upmost regard, the Firm will carry out the necessary actions where it sees fit.
    • All complaints will be investigated thoroughly with accordance to the Firm’s complaints and grievance procedures, the complainant will then be informed of the consequences.

c) Reviewing and Monitoring the Policy:

    • This policy will be continuously monitored and reviewed by The Principal in a way that is relevant to the nature of the Firm; this is carried out to judge whether the policy is effective.

The Firm will also monitor and record the following, where it is deemed appropriate without causing discomfort or offence to those it intends to protect:

      • The ethnicity, gender and disabilities of all staff members throughout the hierarchy of the organisation.
      • The ethnicity, gender and disabilities of all applicants and short-listed/successful applicants applying for job roles or training contracts.
      • The ethnicity, gender and disabilities of all applicants for: promotions. Partnership/training opportunities and whether they were successful.
      • The number of complaints made based on discrimination and harassment made by all members of staff, third parties, clients etc.
      • The amount disciplinary action carried out against employees on the basis of race, gender and disability.

All information will be gathered to assess the progress and impact of the Equality and Diversity Policy; changes must be made accordingly.

Although all employee’s should abide by the provisions outlined in the Firm’s policy, solicitors’ should take note that this duty is also set out by the Solicitor’s Code of Conduct any breach of this policy may result in external disciplinary actions being carried out.