Many chambers are failing in their obligation to disclose diversity data, according to an academic study.

Dr Steven Vaughan, a senior lecturer at Birmingham University’s Law School,conducted a random survey of 160 chambers, of which 91 disclosed some diversity data, although he found ‘widespread non-compliance’ and suggested that chambers were misinterpreting the disclosure requirements.

The paper, Prefer not to say: diversity and diversity reporting at the Bar of England & Wales, found that while chambers were good at disclosing data on gender, fewer than one in four were willing to do so in relation to socio-economic background, sexual orientation, and disability status, although sets were better at disclosing diversity information about their staff.

Vaughan criticised the Bar Standards Board for not compelling chambers to pass their data on to it and suggested that diversity details, which are held in two places on its website, were displayed in a ‘misleading’ manner that demonstrated a ‘lack of transparency’ and could lead to ‘varying perceptions’ of diversity at the Bar.

A BSB spokesperson said it is considering the points raised, but added: ‘We believe there are a number of advantages associated with our current approach to monitoring the diversity of the barrister profession, including the ability to track progression.’​