The new equality and diversity rules of the Code of Conduct will take effect from September 1 2012.
These include: the duty to appoint at least one Equality and Diversity Officer in chambers; equality monitoring in respect of staff, barristers, pupils and assessed mini-pupils; fair access to work which ‘includes but is not limited to, the fair distribution of work amongst pupils and members of chambers’; and duties on chambers to have a policy on parental and adoption leave, on flexible working and on reasonable adjustments aimed at supporting disabled clients, barristers and visitors to chambers.
Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the Bar Standards Board (BSB), said: “We are committed to ensuring that the Bar has appropriate structures in place to record important equality and diversity data and for chambers to be more proactive in the way they approach equality and diversity.”
Meanwhile, the BSB has embarked on a series of road shows across England and Wales as part of its consultation on a new Code of Conduct, to be known as the BSB Handbook.
The BSB hopes the Handbook will be easier to navigate than the existing Code. It is also consulting on a new risk based approach to regulation, which would focus resources on the riskiest areas and encourage compliance through supervision and monitoring while disciplinary sanctions would be reserved for the most serious cases of breach.