Anti-racism protest by Society of Black Lawyers against Solicitors Regulatory Authority

Retired solicitor Nigel Adams speaking at an anti-racism protest organised by the Society of Black Lawyers against the Solicitors Regulation Authority outside the Central London County Court on 26 January 2012.

A growing number of ethnic minority solicitors are bringing race discrimination claims against the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the body created by the Law Society to regulate solicitors and law firms. Many point to the inconsistencies in the decision-making process within the SRA in relation to ethnic minority solicitors, when compared with decisions made against white solicitors.

Joyce Agim is the latest ethnic minority solicitor who believes that institutional racism at the SRA has led to a white solicitor receiving only a reprimand from the SRA, even though the Authority found that the solicitor in question had committed clear breaches of the Solicitors Accounting Rules and anti-money laundering rules. Mrs Agim claims that ethnic minority solicitors have been struck off for much lesser charges and she is now suing the regulatory body for discrimination. The SRA sought to have Mrs Agim’s claim struck out at a hearing on Thursday 26 January 2012 at the Central London County Court.

The SRA has been subject to external monitoring since 2007 as a result of its disproportionate targeting of African, Caribbean and Asian solicitors. An internal report, published in 2006, could not explain why ethnic minority solicitors were five times more likely to be investigated, suspended or struck off than their white counterparts. In July 2008, an independent investigation conducted by Lord Herman Ouseley into allegations of racism, discrimination and victimisation within the SRA found extensive evidence of institutional racism within the regulatory body. Mrs Agim and others believe that despite these reports and efforts within the SRA to implement Lord Ouseley’s recommendations, the Authority continues to engage in practices and decision making which amount to ‘racial profiling’.

Note: The action brought by Joyce Agim was unsuccessful but SBL’s campaign continues.

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