IBA acts to stamp out prejudice

Lawyers worldwide are to be called upon to act as “role models and agents for change” under the first ever IBA guidelines designed to stamp out discrimination in the profession.

But the guidelines, drawn up by the organisation's Discrimination and Gender Equality Committee, stop short of compelling member Bar associations to comply. They will require the approval of the IBA council at next year's conference.

The draft resolution asks the council to “call upon members of the profession to treat all people with whom they come into professional contact without discrimination on such bases as race, colour, sex, sexuality, parenthood, pregnancy, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Calls in New Delhi for the IBA to name the Bar associations that do not have anti-discrimination rules were rejected because it was agreed that this might make the IBA council reject the guidelines.

Indian advocate Naina Kapur, who works at a legal advice centre, said discrimination was rife in the Indian legal profession and that she would have liked the guidelines to be mandatory, but said it was “a start”.