The firm is committed to eliminating unlawful discrimination and to promoting equality and diversity within our policies, practices procedures and professional activities.
We are also committed to promoting equality and diversity in the firm. This applies to our professional dealings with clients, partners, staff, other solicitors, barristers, and all other third parties that have dealings with the firm.
Everyone at the firm is expected and required to treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of:
(a) sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity);
(b) sexual orientation (including civil partnership status);
(c) race or racial group (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins);
(d) religion or belief;
(f) caring responsibility; or
The firm will take all reasonable steps to ensure that we and our staff do not unlawfully discriminate under:
(a) the Equal Pay Act 1970;
(b) the Sex Discrimination Act 1975; (c) the Race Relations Act 1976;
(d) the Disability Discrimination Act 1995;
(e) the Employment Rights Act 1996;
(f) the Human Rights Act 1998;
(g) the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
(h) the Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000;
(i) the Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003;
(j) the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief Act) Regulations 2003;
(k) the Work and Families Act 2006;
(l) the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006; and
(m) any other relevant legislation in force from time to time relating to
3. Meeting Clients Needs
(a) General statement
As a provider of publicly funded legal services the firm will treat all clients equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. The firm will also, wherever possible, take steps to promote equal opportunity in relation to access to the legal services that we provide, taking account of the diversity of the communities that we serve.
(b) Identifying clients needs
The firm is committed to meeting the diverse needs of clients. We will take steps to identify the needs of clients in our community and develop policies and procedures setting out how we will meet clients’ needs and for entering the services we provide are accessible to all. We will take account, in particular, the needs of clients with a disability and clients who are unable to communicate effectively in English. We will consider whether particular groups are predominant within our client base and devise appropriate policies to meet their needs: including men and women; carers; children; the elderly; members of religious groups; ethnic groups or nationalities; and lesbian, gay or transgender people.
The firm is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, but any refusal to act will not be based on discriminatory grounds and care must be taken to avoid there being any perception that they apply. A ramp is available at the Acomb premises and ground floor interview rooms at both offices. Solicitors attend arranged appointments at both offices when required and home visits are arranged where necessary.
4. Dealings with third parties
(a) General statement
The firm will not unlawfully discriminate in dealings with third parties. This applies to dealings with other legal service providers and general procurement.
(b) Dealings with barristers and other expert
The firm will instruct barristers and other experts on the basis of their skill, experience and ability and not unlawfully discriminate, or encourage barristers’ clerks to unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of their age; gender; marital status; race; religion or belief; sexual orientation or on the grounds of disability.
A client’s request for a named barrister or expert should be complied with, subject to the firm’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister or expert and to advise appropriately. The firm has a duty to discuss with the client any instruction by the client as to the choice of barrister or expert that is based on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, the firm will cease to act unless the preference can be justified under the permitted statutory exceptions referred to as ‘genuine occupational requirements or ‘genuine occupational qualifications’.
(a) General statement
As an employer, the firm will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not unlawfully discriminate against them. This applies equally to voluntary positions and anyone undertaking work experience with us. This will include 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.
(b) Recruitment and selection
This firm recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:
(i) employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merit;
(ii) where appropriate, positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;
(iii) selection criteria and processes do not unlawfully discriminate on the grounds of sex (including marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity and paternity), sexual orientation (including civil partnership status), religion or belief, age or disability; other than in those instances where the firm exercising permitted positive action or a permitted exemption;
(iv) all recruitment agencies acting for the firm are aware of requirements
not to discriminate and to act accordingly.
(c) Conditions of service
The firm will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from unlawful discrimination and which respects the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees. Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply with anti-discrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not unlawfully discriminate against any employee on the grounds of their age; gender; marital status; race; religion or belief; sexual orientation or on the grounds of disability.
Where appropriate and necessary, the firm will endeavour to provide
appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the
specific needs of employees which arise from their ethnic or cultural
background; gender; responsibilities as carers; disability; religion or belief or
(d) Promotion and career development
Promotion within the firm including to partners will be made without reference to any of the forbidden grounds 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.
While positive action measures may be taken in accordance with relevant
anti-discrimination legislation to encourage applications from under-represented groups, appointments 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 the anti-discrimination legislation) to provide special training and support for groups which are under-represented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.
(e) Training Plan
The firm will identify equality and diversity training needs and draw up a plan to address these as appropriate to their responsibilities.
(f) Working with other organisations
All those who act on the firms 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 firm behalf. In all its dealings, including those with partners, suppliers, sub-contractors and recruitment agencies, the firm will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.
6. Implementing the policy
Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the firm. The firm has appointed Harry Bayman to be responsible for the operation of the policy.
All employees and partners 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.
The firm does not carry insurance against the consequences of any illegal breach, and any claims in this regard are also likely to involve the firm in significant commitments of managerial time. Further, a breach may be a serious professional offence, and liability may attach not only to the individual(s) concerned, but to also the owners of the firm. Acts of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds by employees or partners of the firm will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar fashion. If anyone is concerned that a breach of this policy may be occurring, or has a complaint that they have been the victim of a breach, they should immediately report this to any partner.
(b) Complaints of discrimination
The firm will treat seriously all complaints of unlawful discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds made by employees, partners, clients, barristers or other third parties and will take action where appropriate.
All complaints will be investigated in accordance with the firm’s grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.
The firm monitor and record equal opportunities information about staff, partners
on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, and disability.
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 firm will monitor the ethnic and gender composition of existing staff and of applicants for jobs (including promotion, and the number of people with disabilities within these groups, and will review its equality and diversity policy in accordance with the results shown by monitoring. If changes are required, the firm will implement them. Any developments of the firm’s strategic and business plans, or changes in the office manual, will similarly be examined in order to ensure no inadvertent breach of the policy occurs.
The firm will provide equal opportunities information to the Legal Services Commission as required in relation to personnel and clients under the terms of the LSC Contracts.
The firm will review the operation of this policy not less than twice a year (or more regularly if we identify any non-compliance or problem concerning equality and diversity issues with clients or personnel). We will take remedial action if we discover non-compliance under this policy or barriers to equal opportunities. When reviewing the policy we will consider the outcome of monitoring and review actions under our communications and training plans.