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Important Changes to the Code of Conduct regarding Equality & Diversity

A summary of the changes to the BSB Code of Conduct regarding Equality & Diversity.

Important revisions have been made to the Code of Conduct on issues relating to equality and diversity. These came into force on 1 September 2012. Click here for a copy of the new rules.

In summary from 1 September 2012 all Chambers:

  • must have in force a written statement of policy on equality and diversity;
  • must have in force a written plan implementing that policy;
  • must have at least one Equality and Diversity Officer;
  • must use fair and objective criteria in their recruitment and selection processes;
  • must monitor by race, disability and gender the number and percentages of staff, barristers, pupils and assessed mini-pupils; applications for assessed mini-pupillage, pupillage, staff and membership of chambers and the allocation of unassigned work and take appropriate remedial action;
  • must ensure that the affairs of chambers are conducted in a manner which is fair and equitable for all members of chambers and pupils, including in relation to the fair distribution of work;
  • must have a written anti-harassment policy;
  • must have a parental and adoption leave policy and, where rent is paid on a flat rate basis, must offer members taking a period of parental/adoption leave, a minimum of 6 months free of chambers’ rent;
  • must have a flexible working policy;
  • must have a Diversity Data Officer, whose name and contact details are notified to the BSB and whose role is to collect, process and publish data relating to certain characteristics of all members of the workforce, including barristers, pupils, clerks and staff.

From 1 January 2013 the members of chambers with lead responsibility for committees or panels responsible for the selection of members of chambers, pupils, clerks or assessed mini-pupils and at least one member of the selection panel, must have been trained in fair recruitment and selection processes (except in unforeseen and exceptional circumstances).

From 1 July 2014, save in exceptional circumstances, every member of all such selection panels must be trained in fair recruitment and selection processes.

It is now the responsibility of every self-employed barrister, and not merely Heads of Chambers, to take reasonable steps to ensure that their chambers complies with these requirements. The steps which it is reasonable for a barrister to take will depend on all the circumstances, including the arrangements in their chambers for the management of chambers and the role which they play in those arrangements.

Further guidance on the new rules from the BSB is available.  Click here for a copy.

There is also further guidance on the collection and processing of diversity data, the role of the Diversity Data Officer and data protection issues.  Click here for a copy.

The BSB has produced a webinar on the new rules which is accessible from the BSB’s website. Watching the webinar attracts 1 CPD point.

The ChBA and COMBAR ran a seminar on the rule changes on 2 October 2012 at the Royal College of Surgeons, 5.30-7pm.

Joanne Wicks QC
Wilberforce Chambers