Equality and diversity

Barristers often think that as they are not ’employed’ they are not subject to ‘normal’ workplace rules of behaviour. They can often treat each other pretty badly as a result, and problems can quickly escalate. If you’re in difficulty, don’t be afraid to reach out for help or support.

The Bar Council provides information, advice and guidance to barristers and Chambers on handling equality and diversity issues and compliance with the BSB’s Equality and Diversit rules. There is an Equality and Diversity Helpline available on 020 7611 1321 from 09:15 – 17:15 Monday through Friday, which promises assistance in:

  • Offering members of the profession, staff and members of chambers, employed barristers, pupils and Bar students confidential advice on any equality and diversity, parental leave or harassment issue.
  • Implementing the Equality and Diversity rules in the BSB Handbook.
  • Advising on making reasonable adjustments and making Chambers accessible to people with disabilities.

For self-employed barristers, there is detailed information on the equality and diversity standards to be set in Chambers in the BSB Handbook.

See in particular the Core Duty not to discriminate unlawfully against any person (CD8) and Rules rC12 and 28 which set out express rules on discrimination, which apply to all barristers, and Rules rC110-rC112 and the Guidance at gC140-gC152, which prescribe the equality and diversity policies to be pursued in Chambers. The BSB publishes excellent guidance and full supporting information on the BSB Handbook Equality Rules.

Rule rC110 places a personal obligation on all self-employed barristers, however they practise, and on the managers of BSB-authorised bodies, as well as on the entity itself, to take reasonable steps to ensure that they have appropriate policies which are enforced. Breaches must be appropriately punished.

As a minimum, your chambers must have a written statement of policy on equality and diversity, as well as policies dealing with anti-harassment, parental leave, flexible working and reasonable adjustments. It must appoint an Equality and Diversity Officer and Diversity Data Officer, conduct equality monitoring, and collect and publish diversity data. The BSB prescribes selection and recruitment procedures in their Fair Recruitment Guide.

The Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Helpline can offer assistance to those who feel they may have been treated unfairly, outside the scope of the rules.

For further information and resources please see www.wellbeingatthebar.org.uk.

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