The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has left itself ‘open to the charge of institutional racism’ because of its failure to address concerns that it investigates a disproportionate number of black and minority ethnic solicitors (BME), according to a report by former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Lord Ouseley.

The review said BME solicitors were over-represented in all areas of regulation. It said: ‘[The SRA’s] policies, procedures, practices and actions, however unintended, can be seen to have disproportionate, detrimental and discriminatory outcomes for BME solicitors.’

However, the report also noted that a case review of 187 files ‘did not reveal any evidence of inappropriate penalties’ being applied to any solicitors.

Key recommendations in­clude ensuring the future composition of the SRA board reflected a multicultural society.

SRA chairman Peter Will­iamson said it had already begun work on diversity issues that would be built on by ‘speedily implementing Lord Ouseley’s key recommendations’.

See Opinion