The Solicitors Regulation Authority has reasserted its commitment to transparency in regulatory decision-making following allegations of discrimination against black and minority ethnic (BME) lawyers.
Following talks with its External Implementation Group (EIG), which represents minority and BME practitioners, the regulator has drawn up a list of actions to show how it is addressing issues of disproportionality.
The list builds on the commitment it made last month to commission a case file review to assess whether there is any disparity in the decisions made in the cases of BME solicitors, compared with their white counterparts.
This week the SRA has also committed to:
- adopt a system of six-monthly external case reviews that will assess the quality of decisions made and whether these are fair, consistent and proportionate;
- work with the EIG to organise webinars and events targeting sole practitioners and those who work in small firms;
- ensure complaints about regulatory action are promptly reviewed by the SRA’s central complaints team, which sits within the authority’s inclusion directorate; and
- support EIG members in the creation of a helpline or other support mechanism to assist solicitors facing regulatory sanction by the SRA.
The development comes after the Society of Black Lawyers demanded fresh action on discrimination. The SBL believes the first such review of alleged disproportionality, carried out in 2008 by former Commission for Racial Equality chair Lord Ouseley, was flawed.
SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: ‘We are committed to working constructively with both the EIG and wider profession towards the shared objective of ensuring the SRA is fair and proportionate in carrying out its regulatory responsibilities.’
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