Black and Muslim lawyers plan breakaway regulator

Black and Muslim solicitors have accused Britain’s legal watchdog of racial discrimination and want to break away to establish their own watchdog body.

The Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML) and the Society of Black Lawyers have obtained figures that show that the Law Society’s regulatory arm is more than twice as likely to investigate misconduct allegations against ethnic minority solicitors than it is against white lawyers. They claim that the disproportionate attention is fuelled by discrimination, rather than by suspect practices.

Figures published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in 2006 showed that 62 per cent of investigations related to nonwhite lawyers.

Peter Herbert, the chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: “These figures are a prima facie case of racial discrimation. Clearly this form of regulation is not working and we are looking at establishing a separate, independent watchdog for ethnic minorities.”

Mahmud al-Rashid, a spokesman for the AML, said: “The figures show there must be discrimination at the SRA. We are demanding an immediate investigation.”

Times, 17 October 2007