23 September 2019

Blog: Monthly message from our Chair Sir Andrew Burns KCMG

As we mention above, with the annual "Authorisation to Practise" period due to start soon, it is almost time for you to renew your Practising Certificate. Please look out for communications from our Records team about "Authorisation to Practise" and renew online.

When you do so, can I please join the Bar Council in urging you to answer all of the questions to do with Equality and Diversity. If you would rather not answer all of the questions, there is the option to enter "Prefer Not To Say". We would much rather you select "Prefer Not To Say" than simply leaving the field blank please. In this way, it will be clear to us that you do not want to provide the information, rather than us not knowing whether or not you have completed the questions.

The information that you provide in this area is very important. It is the only reliable source of data available to help us understand the make-up and diversity of the practising Bar.

Why is understanding this so important?

For a start, it helps us to fulfil our statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010. And this in turn, helps inform the policy decisions that we make to meet our statutory responsibility under the Legal Services Act to encourage diversity at the Bar.

Second, and the reason why we have these legal duties in the first place, is because a more diverse Bar, reflecting the diverse society that it serves, will better enable everyone to have equal access to the services provided by barristers. Of course, the easier it is for all parts of society to access the Bar, the better that is for access to justice and for the business of barristers. You may have already read elsewhere in this edition of Regulatory Update, that we recently published our latest data about diversity at the Bar. This showed that things were heading slowly in the right direction, but that further progress is needed.

Diversity and equality within the profession are priorities for us as your regulator. But we cannot deliver a more diverse Bar on our own. That is why many of our recent actions in this area - such as our consultation about shared parental leave - have been collaborative. And it is why we intend to carry on engaging with you, with your various representative organisations, and with diversity specialists to bring about a faster rate of progress.

With this in mind, we also recently published an updated Equality Strategy for 2017-19. You can read more about this and our Equality Objectives in this edition of Regulatory Update as well.

Thank you for your help in providing your equality and diversity information.