1. Introduction and Scope of the Policy

1.1 Rose Court Chambers seeks to ensure equality of opportunity between all Members of Chambers, probationary tenants, pupils and employees in the way that they are selected for appointment, the way that work is allocated, and the opportunities that are available to them in Chambers.

1.2 This policy applies to all employees, tenants, probationary tenants and pupils at Rose Court Chambers.

1.3 All employees, tenants, probationary tenants and pupils are required to read this policy( and all Chambers’ policies ) , and to abide by it ( and them ) at all times. A breach of this and or any policy may lead to disciplinary action being taken, and in the most serious cases could lead to termination of employment, pupillage, probationary tenancy or tenancy.

1.4 Chambers is bound by the Equality Act 2010 both as employers and in all aspects of its work as a barristers chambers including the recruitment of pupils, probationary tenants and tenants, the arrangements made for distribution of work and the provision of legal services to the public

1.5 Chambers is further bound by the Employment Rights Act 1996 regarding employees.

1.6 However, Chambers also recognises that individuals may suffer unjustified discrimination because of other factors such as background and socio-economic status.

1.7 Rose Court Chambers will ensure as far as possible that no individual is discriminated against directly or indirectly, consciously or non-consciously for any such reason.

1.8 This policy should be read in conjunction with the following Chambers’ policies which can be found at Annex A.

(a) Membership and Recruitment Policy;

(b) Harassment Policy;

(c) Diversity Data Policy;

2. Protected Characteristics

2.1 Under the Equality Act 2010, people are protected against unlawful discrimination on the following grounds : age, disability, sex, race (including colour, ethnic or national origin or nationality), sexual orientation, marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, religion or belief.  

3. Types of Discrimination

3.1 Direct discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person or subjected to a detriment because of a protected characteristic. Examples include : a constant failure to mention a particular tenant to an instructing solicitor, a refusal to work with another barrister or to return work to them, a failure to offer pupillage or tenancies, or to take a complaint of discrimination seriously.

3.2 Indirect discrimination occurs when an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice is applied which places people with a protected characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with others. An example would be a requirement that all employees are available to work full time. Such a requirement is likely to discriminate against women with childcare responsibilities.

In law, indirect discrimination may be justifiable, for objective reasons. Although Chambers will make every attempt to ensure that it does not indirectly discriminate, except for legitimate reasons, where there is a greater competing demand, it is recognised that it may do so.

3.3 Harassment is unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating the victim’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the victim. Sexual harassment includes unwanted conduct which is of a sexual nature or related to a person’s sex or gender reassignment. An individual does not need to intend to harass another person, it is enough that the attention or remarks are unwanted, and that the person finds them offensive. Harassment can take the form of unwanted touching, inappropriate or inoffensive remarks, name calling, teasing, inappropriate or embarrassing jokes or shouting or intimidation or inappropriate ‘banter’. Chambers has a separate anti-bullying and anti-harassment policy which is distributed to all staff, pupils, probationary tenants and Members of Chambers.

3.4 Victimisation occurs if a person is subjected to a detriment because they have done or are believed to have or are thought likely to do a protected act in good faith. This can include making an allegation of unlawful discrimination, bringing a discrimination claim, giving evidence in a discrimination claim or taking any other steps in connection with the Equality Act 2010.

4. Recruitment and Retention :

4.1 Chambers actively encourages individuals from groups traditionally under-represented in the legal profession to apply to Rose Court Chambers.

4.2 Selection criteria for employment, ( probationary tenancy and ) tenancies and pupillage are based on objectively justifiable criteria. Chambers has a recruitment policy and procedure for the selection and recruitment of employees, pupils and ( probationary tenancies ), which forms part of this Diversity and Inclusion Policy.

4.3 In addition to Chambers' contractual obligation to employees, full support and assistance will be given to any tenant or probationary tenant or pupil who wishes to take leave on the birth of a child, both whilst they are on leave and when they return to work in accordance with the Parental leave policy.

4.4 In addition to Chambers’ contractual obligation to employees,  Chambers will take all reasonable steps to support and assist tenants, probationary tenants  and pupils with disabilities, in training and in practice, by ensuring, as far as is reasonable, that facilities are suitable and accessible; that work is appropriate and that reasonable adjustments are made as required. In addition Chambers will make reasonable adjustments for applicants with disabilities in accordance with our reasonable adjustments policy.

4.5 All applicants to Chambers will be required to demonstrate their understanding and acceptance of Chambers policy and practice on equal opportunities and dignity at work.

5. Monitoring and Publishing of Diversity Data :

5.1 In order to ensure that practices, policies and procedures do not discriminate directly or indirectly against any particular group, Chambers recognises the importance of regular monitoring.

5.2 Monitoring by race, gender, disability and by other indicators such as age, religion and sexual orientation, where possible, will be carried out by Chambers’ Diversity Data Officer in accordance with Chambers’ Diversity Data Policy.

6. The Individual’s right to complain

6.1 All individuals have the right to complain without fear of victimisation.

6.2 Any pupil, employee or barrister who considers that a breach of this policy may have occurred, (the complainant) should raise the matter in the first instance with the other person or group of people concerned.

6.3 If the matter cannot be resolved informally, or if it is not appropriate to raise the concern with the individual or group, the complainant should raise the matter informally with a member of the Policy Committee or with the person’s line manager if the person complained of is an employee.

6.4 Where the person complaining or complained of is an employee, the matter will be dealt with according to the contractual procedures.

6.5 In all other cases, the member of Policy Committee should approach the person or group concerned informally, to raise the concerns and investigate the matter, and attempt to resolve the issue. The complainant may at this stage accept any informal method of resolution. This may include, but is not limited to:

(a) An explanation of events;

(b) An explanation and an apology;

(c) An agreement to remedy the act or omission in a mutually acceptable way;

(d) An agreement that the policy needs amending and a referral to the appropriate committee.

6.6 In the event that the matter cannot be resolved informally, the complainant can ask the member of Policy to refer the matter to the Policy Committee formally.

6.7 The Policy Committee should nominate three members of Chambers, including at least one senior member, to hear the matter.

6.8 A date for a formal meeting will then be arranged at the mutual convenience of all parties, at which both parties to the complaint will be heard, and any relevant documentation or other information considered. If possible this meeting should take place within 28 days of the referral.

6.9 If an individual has a concern about a policy or practice, they should raise their concern with the Chair of Policy Committee. The panel will decide whether the complaint is justified, and what action, if any should be taken.

6.10 Either party can appeal to the full Chambers Meeting against the sanction or remedy, and the panel may refer a proposed sanction to the full committee in any circumstances. The Policy Committee must refer a complaint to the full Chambers Meeting if suspension or termination of tenancy or pupillage is proposed.

7. Harassment, bullying and dignity at work :

7.1 Chambers has a duty to ensure that all employees, tenants, probationary tenants and pupils are treated with dignity whilst at work.

7.2 Chambers will not tolerate or condone harassment, bullying or offence to the dignity of any employee, pupil, probationary tenant or tenant by another member of, or by others working with or for members of Chambers.

7.3 All complaints of harassment should be raised with the person concerned, or, if this is not appropriate with a member of Policy Committee under the procedure set out in Section 6 above.

7.4 Where no grounds for the complaint are found, the complainant must be given reasons for this in writing, and may take the matter to the full Chambers Meeting if dissatisfied.

7.5 Records of the nature of all complaints, and their outcomes, with names and identification withheld, will be monitored annually.

8. Training

8.1 Where appropriate, Chambers may decide to arrange training for members of staff or for committee members to assist in any aspect of the implementation of this policy.

9. Conclusion :

9.1 It is the ongoing responsibility of all members of Rose Court Chambers to ensure that they do not breach any aspect of this or any Chambers’ policy.

10. Rose Court Chambers Diversity Action Plan :

10.1 All members of Chambers, employees, probationary tenants and pupils will be issued with the Diversity and Inclusion Policy on joining Rose Court Chambers.

10.2 All members of the Recruitment Committee will familiarise themselves with Chambers’ recruitment policy and procedure and the Fair Recruitment Guide by 1st March 2021.

10.3 Chambers Equality and Diversity Officer will do a full review of all equality and diversity policies and draft a comprehensive diversity strategy and action plan by 30 April 2021.

10.4 Chambers website will on launch include a statement of our commitment to equality and diversity, our willingness to consider reasonable adjustments for disabled candidates and our desire to encourage applications from under-represented groups. Chambers advertising will also include these statements.

10.5 Chambers Diversity Data Officer will undertake a Diversity Data collection exercise by 31.12.2021.