Bar hauls up Inns over equal opportunities code

THE INNS of Court have failed to show a 100 per cent commitment to equal opportunities, according to senior Bar Council members.

The council is set to pull the Inns into line with its own code of equal opportunity practice following a vote at the Bar's AGM.

Gray's Inn, Lincoln's Inn and Middle Temple rejected the code proposed by the Inner Temple, adopting instead their own brief statement of policy.

Bruce Coles QC told members how the Inns' approach was “deficient” and added: “The Inns of Court do not show a 100 per cent commitment to equal opportunities.”

“They have merely outlawed discriminatory practices and do not go on to follow the policies of the Bar and set out a full code of practice.”

James Munby QC said lawyers should be at the forefront of eliminating prejudice and discrimination.

“Will the Inns of Court now accept that their decision was the wrong one?” he said.

But John Samuels QC said he was present when the Inns discussed the code, and the treasurers of Lincoln's and Gray's Inns had been concerned by the final drafting.

Only the Inner Temple said it would accept the Bar's code.

“Publicity has been given to a dispute between the Bar Council and the Inns which wholly misrepresents the issue. There is no dispute. The agreed principle is a step forward just as we took a major step forward in 1986,” he said.