1. Introduction

 

The aims of this Equality and Diversity Policy are to: –

  • Declare the commitment of Stour to the practical application and promotion of principles of equal opportunity and diversity;
  • Communicate that commitment to Stour members, employees, other workers, clients (lay and professional) and other service users, and;
  • Further our core values

 

This policy applies to: –

  • Members
  • Employees;
  • Applicants for membership, employment or other engagements;
  • Pupils;
  • Individuals on work experience or mini-pupillages;
  • Contract workers (including casual workers);
  • Agency workers;
  • Volunteer workers;
  • Clients (lay and professional) and other service users;
  • Providers of services to Stour;
  • Anyone who has formerly fallen into one of the categories above, but whose relationship with Stour has either terminated or altered, and;
  • Visitors to Stour.

 

2. Statement of Policy


Stour Chambers is committed to equal opportunities practice and procedures. We are committed to providing equal treatment and opportunities to all in Chambers and to all clients in the planning and provision of services in accordance with the guidance issued by the Bar Council. Every barrister in Chambers is committed to observing the Bar Council Code of Conduct and in particular the Bar Council Equality Code in relation to non-discrimination in the acceptance of work, the carrying out of that work and all dealing with clients, and others.
Stour is committed to:

  • Advancing equality of opportunity for all persons,
  • Promoting a good and harmonious working environment in which all persons are treated with respect,
  • Preventing occurrences of unlawful discrimination harassment and victimisation,
  • Fulfilling all its legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and associated codes of practice,
  • Fulfilling all equality and diversity obligations imposed by the Bar Standards Board,
  • Complying with this Policy,
  • Taking lawful positive action where appropriate, and
  • Regarding breaches of this Policy as potential misconduct which may lead to disciplinary proceedings against members, employees and other workers, a cessation of the provision of services to clients or other service users or a cessation of dealings with service providers. For further information, please refer to the Stour Chambers manual and constitution.

 

Under this Policy, Stour will not discriminate on the grounds of:

  • Age,
  • Disability,
  • Gender transition or reassignment,
  • Marital or civil partnership status,
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins,
  • Religion or belief (including absence of belief),
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation


These are known, collectively, as “protected characteristics”.
Stour Chambers will also not discriminate on the basis of:

  • Gender identity, including any gender identities outside of the gender binary,
  • Caring responsibilities,
  • Mental health, whether or not it is also a disability
  • Socio economic background or status.
  • Parental leave


Stour stands against all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination, including:

  • Direct discrimination – less favourable treatment because of a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect discrimination – the unjustifiable application of an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice the effect of which is to put persons with a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage compared to others.
  • Pregnancy and maternity discrimination.
  • Discrimination in relation to pay.
  • Discrimination connected with disability – unjustified unfavourable treatment for a reason arising in consequence of a person’s disability.
  • Victimisation – the subjection of one person by another to a detriment because they have done, or the victimiser believes that the other person has done or may do, a protected act such as:
      • making an allegation of discrimination
      • giving evidence in proceedings relating to an act or acts of discrimination,
      • bringing proceedings relating to an act or acts of discrimination, or
      • doing any other thing for the purposes of equality legislation or in connection with it.
  • Harassment – unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.
  • Sexual harassment – unwanted conduct of a sexual nature/related to gender, gender reassignment or sex which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person and/or less favourable treatment for rejecting or refusing to submit to such conduct, and
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments to a provision, criterion, physical feature or practice which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with non-disabled people and/or unreasonable failure to provide auxiliary aids where to do otherwise would place a person and a substantial disadvantage.


Explanations of these concepts and examples can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission website: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en


All applicants for membership, employment, pupillage, and work experience and all others who work with or for us will be treated fairly and will not be discriminated against because of any of the protected characteristics by colleagues. We will also use our best endeavours to protect colleagues from discrimination or harassment in the course of their work by persons outside Stour.


Decisions about membership, recruitment and selection, promotion, training, pay, disciplinary action and any other matter will be made objectively and with the aims and commitments in sections 1 and 2 of this Policy in mind.


This Policy has regard to the legal obligations, principles and guidance derived from the Equality Act 2010 and the related Codes of Practice.


Chambers’ Equality Policy is designed to ensure that all anti-discrimination legislation is fully complied with.

 

Chambers is also fully committed to the following guidance given in various Codes of Practice and Guidance:


(i) The Code of Practice for the Elimination of Discrimination on the Grounds of Sex and Marriage and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity in Employment, issued by the Equal Opportunities Commission
(ii) The Code of Practice for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Promotion of Equality of Opportunity in Employment, issued by the Commission for Racial Equality
(iii) (a) The Code of Practice for the Elimination of Discrimination in the Field of Employment against Disabled Persons or Persons who have had a Disability, issued by the Department of Employment
(b) The Guidance on Matters to be taken into account in Determining Questions relating to the definition of Disability, issued by the Department of Employment
(iv) The Code of Practice on Equal Pay, issued by the Equal Opportunities Commission
(v) Age diversity in employment – a Code of Practice, issued by the Department of Employment
(vi) The Equality Code for the Bar

 

This Policy should be read in conjunction with the Pupillage and Tenancy Policy in relation to the recruitment of pupils and the recruitment of established practitioners. The Policy should also be read along side Stour’s policies for Reasonable Adjustments, Parental Leave, Anti-Harassment and Diversity Data.

 

Stour recognises that the provision of equal opportunities in the workplace is not only right as a matter of principle and consistent with our core values, but that it is also good management practice.


This Policy will help us, and those who work with and for us, to develop our full potential, and thus promotes respect for the individual worth of all people involved with Stour.


Stour Chambers’ Equality Policy is available to all members of Chambers, including pupils and applies to Chambers as an employer of staff, provider of services to the public, selection of pupils, recruitment of new tenants, relationships between members and engagement and treatment of third parties visiting Chambers. This Policy is reviewed every month during MC meetings.


3. Implementation


Responsibility for implementation of this Policy lies with the Equality and Diversity Officers, reporting to the Head of Chambers and to the Management Committee (MC).


In order to implement the Policy, Stour shall:

  • Provide a copy of this Policy to all existing employees, members and pupils,
  • Provide a copy of this Policy to all new employees, members and trainees in their induction packs as part of their initial diversity training,
  • Require all employees, members and trainees to sign an acknowledgement that they have read and understood copy of this Policy,
  • Publish a copy of this Policy on Stour’ s website,
  • Inform all job applicants, students on work experience, contract workers, agency workers and volunteer workers of the existence of this Policy and provide a copy of this Policy to such persons upon request,
  • Retain a copy of this Policy on the Stour server
  • Have regard to this Policy when allocating work to third party organisations which do business with Stour, monitor compliance with it thereafter, and endeavour to ensure that Stour only does business with third party organisations who respect equal opportunities principles in their dealings with Stour,
  • Ensure that adequate resources are made available to fulfil the objectives of this Policy, and
  • Create and implement an equality and diversity action plan that is reviewed annually by the EDO(s). This will be the responsibility of the EDO(s) in conjunction with the Management Committee. The action plan should be communicated to the MC and published in the MC minutes for the benefit of all members.


4. Equality and Diversity Officers


Pursuant to the implementation of the BSB Equality rules, Stour will appoint Equality and Diversity Officer(s) on the following basis:

  • Two Equality & Diversity Officers should be appointed:
  • Where possible one officer shall be more than 10 years call and the other a junior member of chambers.
  • Where practicable the officers should not hold other responsibility roles within chambers
  • EDOs who are members shall be appointed for a three-year term but are entitled to resign from the position on reasonable notice (which will normally be at least three weeks) at any time.
  • Appointments shall, where possible, be staggered so that there is the ability for one EDO to have legacy knowledge on recent issues.
  • EDOs will work collaboratively with the MC on a regular basis.
  • The EDOs should have a good understanding of the principles of equality and discrimination law knowledge before taking up their role.
  • The EDOs will be responsible for all equality and diversity regulatory matters as listed by the BSB rules.


The Equality and Diversity Officers of Chambers (EDO) are trained in accordance with the requirements of the Bar Council and are responsible for amending any policies/procedures to ensure compliance with any changes in legislation and best practice in the area of equality and diversity. The Management Committee of Chambers (MC) has overall responsibility in the implementation of such policies/procedures.

 

The EDOs have reviewed the premises and facilities for use by minority members to ensure they can be accommodated as far as practical.


Appointment of EDOs


The following procedure shall apply to the appointment of EDO:

  • In good time before the expiry of an EDO’s term or (where possible) before the expiry of any notice given by a current EDO, the MC shall invite members, to express an interest in becoming an EDO. The MC may, if it considers it appropriate, encourage particular individuals to express an interest.
  • Any prospective EDO shall communicate their willingness to become an EDO to the MC.
  • The MC shall identify a suitable candidate EDO from those who have expressed an interest or, if no person expresses an interest, take such further steps as it considers appropriate to identify a suitable candidate.
  • The appointment of the EDO shall be endorsed by the membership at the next full chambers Meeting or the next AGM (whichever is sooner). An appointed and endorsed candidate shall take up their position as EDO on the expiry of the term or notice of the existing EDO, as the case may be. An appointed candidate may take up the position pending endorsement.


5. Training under this policy


Stour will endeavour to provide equality and diversity training at least every three years to all members and staff.
Such training will be mandatory for all members and staff who have any involvement with pupillage, training or recruitment.


Other than in exceptional circumstances, no members or employees shall take part in assessing candidates for recruitment or promotion unless they have received training in non-discriminatory selection techniques within the previous three years.


Any training provided will, as a minimum, address all criteria set out in the BSB Equality Rules and take into account the advice on non-discriminatory recruitment in Part 2 of the EHRC’s Code of Practice on Employment.


6. Recruitment and our obligations under this policy


Information about vacant posts for employment, pupillage, membership or work experience will be provided in a manner that does not restrict its audience in terms of any protected characteristic.
Stour will publish the statement set out below on detailed vacancy information for job vacancies, work experience placements, Pupillage and membership posted on its website:


Stour strives to be an equal opportunities employer and is committed to diversity amongst its staff, members and trainees. We therefore encourage and welcome applications from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups (including, for example, women, BAME candidates, disabled candidates and LGBT+ candidates). We are happy to make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled candidates to demonstrate their suitability for the job and to consider flexible working in appropriate cases.


Where appropriate, persons from underrepresented groups will be particularly invited to apply and Stour will endeavour to use those advertising media that are likely to attract the widest and/or most diverse group of candidates.


Descriptions and specifications for posts be reviewed by an EDO so as to ensure that they do not discriminate and will include only those requirements that are reasonably necessary and justifiable for the performance of the job.


All selection will be conducted against defined criteria and will deal only with the applicant’s suitability for the job.


In the case of short-term or casual work where a full and open recruitment process would be disproportionate, recruitment will be through a Job Centre or any another appropriate agency that demonstrates compliance with good equal opportunities practice generally, and in particular in relation to the selection of candidates for work.


7. Monitoring and Review of Diversity Data


Stour will establish appropriate information, monitoring and review systems to assist the effective implementation of this Policy. These measures are set out in the Diversity Data Policy.


8. Complaints


Anyone to whom this Policy applies who believes that they have suffered any form of discrimination, harassment or victimisation contrary to this Policy, is entitled to raise that concern. They should seek advice from an EDO, or follow Chambers grievance procedures as set out in manual. They should also refer (if applicable) to the Anti-Harassment & Anti-Bullying Policy.


Anyone to whom this Policy does not apply, who wishes to make a complaint relating to breach of this Policy by someone to whom it does apply, should raise that complaint with the Head of Chambers, who will decide how the complaint ought to be addressed within Stour’s grievance procedures.


All complaints in relation to this Policy will be treated seriously and promptly.


You are able to seek the advice of an EDO in relation to any matter relating to this Policy

 

This policy was implemented on 27th April 2020 and will be reviewed on 27th April 2021.

This set comes recommended for its members' expertise in children and matrimonial finance matters. The children cases range across both public and private law work, and include those concerning non-accidental injury, sexual abuse and fabricated illness. On the financial side, the set's barristers demonstrate the ability to act in substantial financial remedies cases as well as Schedule 1 and TOLATA matters.

~ Chambers UK Bar Guide 2020

Stour Chambers has 'a range of barristers at different levels suited for different cases'. Members continue to be instructed in complex multi-day cases in the public law space, where it provides 'expert counsel' across Kent and further afield involving non-accidental injury, sexual abuse and extreme neglect. On the family finance front, Elizabeth Spence is a go-to barrister for high-value cases with issues of minority shareholdings and opponents deploying hostile litigation tactics.

~ Legal 500 Bar Guide 2021

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