Warning notice

Equality and diversity

Important: The content below was written and issued before the introduction of the SRA Handbook on 6 October 2011 and may refer to regulatory material that is no longer in effect. For further information, please contact our Professional Ethics helpline.

Last updated May 2010

The SRA takes compliance with the principles of equality and diversity very seriously.

 Rule 6 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct 2007 and general law lay down your equality and diversity obligations. The SRA expects you to meet those obligations. You must treat everyone fairly and must not breach your conduct or legal duties.

When we visit your firm, we expect you to demonstrate this by

  • having arrangements in place to demonstrate your compliance with the principles of equality and diversity (as currently set out in rule 6),
  • making your policy available for consideration by the SRA,
  • providing examples of how your policy is implemented.

What you need to do

If you are a regulated person or firm

  • Ensure that you do not discriminate on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age or disability.
  • Ensure that disabled employees or clients are not placed at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with others and make reasonable adjustments.
  • Adopt and implement a policy that ensures a safe working environment, free from harassment and bullying.
  • Provide training and challenge discriminatory behaviour.
  • Ensure your management systems comply with rule 6.
  • Ensure all staff are aware of your policy and comply with it.
  • Challenge inappropriate behaviour.

If you are recruiting or interviewing

  • Remember your obligations not to discriminate either in the process or when interviewing for any position.
  • Ensure your processes are fair, transparent and comply with your obligations, even when using agencies.

Complying with the law

If a court or tribunal finds you have committed an unlawful act of discrimination, that is likely to lead to an SRA investigation and could lead to disciplinary proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

Your obligations are set out in rules 1, 5.01 and 6 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct and its guidance and in legislation including, but not confined to, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Disability Discrimination Acts 1995 and 2005

The Equality Act 2010 which comes into force in October 2010 prohibits unlawful discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

For conduct advice, contact our Professional Ethics helpline.

Please use www.sra.org.uk/equality-in-practice to link to this page.

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