THE COMMISSION for Racial Equality has dropped plans for a formal investigation into allegations of racial discrimination at the Inns of Court School of Law (ICSL), instead entering into a written agreement on race relations with the Council of Legal Education.
But the CRE claims it has not backed down from probing race issues at the ICSL, a study of which began following revelations about the disparity in pass rates between black and white students on the 1992 Bar Vocational Course.
CRE spokesman Chris Myant says the commission considered the possibility of continuing its formal investigation, "but we decided to offer the CLE the opportunity of working with us under a legally-binding agreement".
"When we first launched our formal investigation two years ago it resulted in the CLE opening the Barrow Inquiry," Myant says.
"The Barrow Inquiry came up with a wide range of reforms that the CLE was asked to implement. Some have already been implemented and there is progress now under way which should see significant steps in the right direction.
"But we can also see that significant problems remain. In particular there is a continuing under-representation of ethnic minority students among those who are successful, which the CLE has not been able to explain to our satisfaction."
ICSL dean Mary Phillips has welcomed the agreement.
"We look forward to studying their [CRE] document with a view to working with them," she says.