1. 15NBSChambers is fully committed to making reasonable adjustments in order to remove or reduce substantial disadvantage for disabled people working within chambers or using our services.
2. We recognise that in the context of the provision of legal services, the purpose of the reasonable adjustments obligations to clients is to provide access to the services for a disabled client as close as it is reasonably possible to get to the standard normally offered to other clients who are not disabled.
3. For the purposes of our commitment to making reasonable adjustments, we use, as a starting point, the definition of disability contained within the EA,s.6 A person is therefore disabled for these purposes if she/he/they has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on his/her/their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. “Substantial” means more than minor or trivial and “long term” means 12 months or more. However, where there is a doubt as to whether someone meets this definition, we would seek to “level up” rather than “level down” and make the adjustment sought if it could reasonably be done.
4. We also recognise that Chambers or a Barrister may in some cases discriminate unlawfully if they do not know that a client is disabled. Disability is not always visible, and many disabled people choose not to disclose their disability. What is important is not to act on assumptions, but to be prepared to ask in advance what reasonable adjustments can be made to ensure that the service of Chambers or the barrister can be used without the disabled person being put to unreasonable difficulty.
5. Staff or barristers with specific requirements should make requests to the Senior Clerk and the Administrator for reasonable adjustment decisions. All requests for reasonable adjustments will be made on a case by case basis and/or with the Equality and Diversity Officer if appropriate, and where it is not possible to make the adjustments requested, the Senior Clerk and Administrator will discuss viable alternatives with the applicant.
6. The Administrator is responsible for considering whether or not disabled staff, barristers or pupils require assistance during an emergency evacuation and if so whether or not a personal emergency evacuation plan is required for the individual/s concerned. If so, the plan will be developed in partnership with the individual concerned in order to ensure that adjustments to the emergency procedure may be made.
7. The pupillage application process seeks to identify requests for specific reasonable adjustments. The decision about such adjustments will be made by the Head of the Pupillage Committee in conjunction with the Equality and Diversity Officer as appropriate.
8. Barristers are responsible for considering whether their visitors are likely to need any reasonable adjustments and alerting the clerking team and the front desk to the same.
9. Requests for specific reasonable adjustments from visitors may be made by contacting the Administrator.
10. Our website and publicity material makes clear that reasonable adjustments will be made for service users and identifies the person to whom requests should be made.
11. 15NBSChambers will strive to ensure that its website is fully accessible.
12. Other examples of the sort of reasonable adjustments that we might make are:
(i) Providing information in alternative formats (e.g. large print or Braille)
(ii) Auxiliary aids e.g. induction loops
(iii) Alternative office space with ramps if required
In assessing whether an adjustment is reasonable, we will follow the guidance given by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to the effect that “When deciding whether an adjustment is reasonable, service providers can consider issues such as the cost of the adjustment, the practicality of making it, health and safety factors, the size of the organisation, and whether it will achieve the desired effect… In considering what is reasonable, you may consider factors such as your organisations financial resources as generally more is expected of larger organisations.
13. In no circumstances will Chambers pass on the cost of a reasonable adjustment to a disabled person.