Equal opportunities and diversity policy

Penningtons Manches Cooper’s commitment

(1) General commitment

Penningtons Manches Cooper is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policies, practices and procedures and in those areas in which it has influence.

This applies to Penningtons Manches Cooper’s professional dealings with staff and partners, other solicitors, barristers, clients and third parties.

Penningtons Manches Cooper intends to treat everyone equally and with the same attention, courtesy and respect regardless of their disability, gender, marital status, race, racial group, colour, age, ethnic or national origin, nationality, religion or belief, sexual orientation and pregnancy or maternity. These are known as protected characteristics.

(2) Regulation and legislation

In developing and implementing its equal opportunities and diversity policy, Penningtons Manches Cooper is committed to complying with Rule 6 from the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007 and with all current and any future anti-discrimination legislation and associated codes of practice including, but not limited to:

  • the Equality Act 2010
  • the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • and any relevant amendments or re-enactments of such legislation
  • the Human Rights Act 1998
  • the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
  • the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000
  • the Employment Act 2002
  • the Work and Families Act 2006
  • the Commission for Racial Equality code of practice for the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of equality of opportunity in employment (1983)
  • the Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on sex discrimination; equal opportunities policies, procedures and practices in employment (1985)
  • the Equal Opportunities Commission code of practice on Equal Pay (2003)
  • the European Community code of practice on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work
  • and any relevant amendments to such codes or further codes of practice.

Forms of Discrimination

The following are the kinds of discrimination, which are against Penningtons Manches Cooper’s policy:

Direct discrimination, is where a person is treated less favourably than another person because they have or are thought to have a protected characteristic, or they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic. In relation to age, direct discrimination can be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Indirect discrimination is where an apparently neutral provision, criterion or practice that applies to everyone particularly disadvantages people who share a protected characteristic. Again, indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. The Equality Act 2010 has extended this to apply to disability and gender re-assignment, but does not apply to pregnancy or maternity.

Victimisation, is where someone is treated less favourably than others because he or she has taken action against Penningtons Manches Cooper under one of the relevant Acts above. The victim need not have a protected characteristic in order to be protected from victimisation under the Equality Act.

Harassment is when unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic takes place with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person and of creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Harassment may involve physical acts or verbal and non-verbal communications and gestures and includes harassment by third parties such as clients and other suppliers / contractors. Any instances of harassment should be reported to your Team Partner / manager and / or Human Resources.

Employment and Training

(1) General statement

As an employer, Penningtons Manches Cooper will treat all employees and job applicants equally and fairly and not discriminate unjustifiably against them. This will, for example, include arrangements for recruitment and selection, terms and conditions of employment, access to training opportunities, access to promotion and transfers, grievance and disciplinary processes, demotions, selection for redundancies, dress code, references, bonus schemes, work allocation and any other employment related activities.

(2) Recruitment and selection

Penningtons Manches Cooper recognises the benefits of having a diverse workforce and will take steps to ensure that:

  • it endeavours to recruit from the widest pool of qualified candidates possible;
  • employment opportunities are open and accessible to all on the basis of their individual qualities and personal merit;
  • where appropriate, positive action measures are taken to attract applications from all sections of society and especially from those groups which are underrepresented in the workforce;
  • selection criteria and processes do not discriminate unjustifiably on the grounds of a protected characteristic other than in those instances where Penningtons Manches Cooper is exercising permitted positive action;
  • wherever appropriate and necessary, lawful exemptions (genuine occupational requirements) will be used to recruit suitable staff to meet the special needs of particular groups;
  • all recruitment agencies acting for Penningtons Manches Cooper are aware of its requirement not to discriminate and to act accordingly.

(3) Targets

Penningtons Manches Cooper will use its best endeavours to comply with Law Society policies and targets for the employment of ethnic minorities, as are produced from time to time in accordance with the provisions of the Equality Act.

Penningtons Manches Cooper is a signatory of the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Charter and endeavours to meet the requirements of the charter in order to ensure high standards are maintained.

(4) Conditions of service

Penningtons Manches Cooper will treat all employees equally and create a working environment which is free from discrimination and harassment and which respects, where appropriate, the diverse backgrounds and beliefs of employees.

Terms and conditions of service for employees will comply with antidiscrimination legislation. The provision of benefits such as working hours, maternity and other leave arrangements, performance appraisal systems, dress code, bonus schemes and any other conditions of employment will not discriminate against any employee on the grounds of a protected characteristic.

Where appropriate and necessary, Penningtons Manches Cooper will endeavour to provide appropriate facilities and conditions of service which take into account the specific needs of employees which arise from a protected characteristic.

(5) Promotion and career development

Promotion within Penningtons Manches Cooper (including to partner) will be made without reference to any of the forbidden grounds and will be based solely on merit.

The selection criteria and processes for recruitment and promotion will be kept under review to ensure that there is no unjustifiably discriminatory impact on any particular group.

Whilst positive action measures may be taken in accordance with the relevant anti-discrimination legislation (as outlined in the Equality Act) to encourage underrepresented groups to apply for promotion opportunities, recruitment or promotion to all jobs will be based solely on merit.

All employees will have equal access to training and other career development opportunities appropriate to their experience and abilities. However, Penningtons Manches Cooper will take appropriate positive action measures (as permitted by the Equality Act) to provide special training and support for groups that are underrepresented in the workforce and encourage them to take up training and career development opportunities.


Arrangements and procedures for selecting partners their terms and conditions of partnership/membership, access to benefits, facilities or services and termination arrangements will be reviewed and amended where necessary to prevent discrimination on any of the forbidden grounds.

Maternity rights available to partners shall be no less favourable that those required by legislation for employees.

Barristers and third parties

(1) Barristers

Barristers should be instructed on the basis of their skills, experience and ability. Penningtons Manches Cooper will not, on any of the forbidden grounds, avoid briefing a barrister and will not request barristers’ clerks to do so.

Clients’ requests for a named barrister should be complied with, subject to Penningtons Manches Cooper’s duty to discuss with the client the suitability of the barrister and to advise appropriately.

Penningtons Manches Cooper will discuss with the client any request by the client that only a barrister who does not have a protected characteristic be instructed. In the absence of a valid reason for this request, which must be within the exemptions permitted by the Equality Act, Penningtons Manches Cooper will endeavour to persuade the client to modify their instructions in so far as they are given on discriminatory grounds. Should the client refuse to modify such instructions, Penningtons Manches Cooper will cease to act.

(2) Suppliers

All lists of approved suppliers and databases of contractors, agents and other third parties who, or which, are regarded as suitable to be instructed by those within Penningtons Manches Cooper have been compiled only on the basis of the ability of those persons or organisations to undertake work of a particular type and contain no discriminatory exclusion, restriction or preference.


Penningtons Manches Cooper is generally free to decide whether to accept instructions from any particular client, but any refusal to act will not be based upon any of the forbidden grounds.

Penningtons Manches Cooper will take steps to meet the different needs of particular clients arising from its obligations under the Equality Act and Rule 6 of the Solicitors Code of Conduct 2007.

In addition, where necessary and where it is permitted by the Equality Act (for example, provisions relating to positive action or exemptions) Penningtons Manches Cooper will seek to provide services which meet the specific needs and requests arising from clients’ protected characteristics or other relevant factors.

Promoting equality and diversity

Penningtons Manches Cooper is committed to promoting equality and diversity in Penningtons Manches Cooper as well as in those areas in which it has influence, and is a signatory of the Law Society's Diversity and Inclusion Charter.

Employees and partners will be informed of this policy and will be provided with equality and diversity training appropriate to their needs and responsibilities.

All those who act on Penningtons Manches Cooper’s behalf will be informed of this policy and will be expected to pay due regard to it when conducting business on Penningtons Manches Cooper’s behalf.

In all its dealings, including those with suppliers, contractors and recruitment agencies, Penningtons Manches Cooper will seek to promote the principles of equality and diversity.

Penningtons Manches Cooper will make every effort to reflect its commitment to equality and diversity in its marketing and communication activities.

Implementing the policy

(1) Responsibility

Ultimate responsibility for implementing the policy rests with the Managing Partner of Penningtons Manches Cooper. Penningtons Manches Cooper will appoint a senior person within it to be responsible for the operation of the policy.

All employees and partners of Penningtons Manches Cooper are expected to pay due regard to the provisions of its equal opportunities and diversity policy and are responsible for ensuring compliance with it when undertaking their jobs or representing Penningtons Manches Cooper.

Acts of discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds by employees or partners of Penningtons Manches Cooper will result in disciplinary action. Failure to comply with this policy will be treated in a similar fashion. The policy applies to all who are employed in Penningtons Manches Cooper and to all partners.

Acts of discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds by those acting on behalf of Penningtons Manches Cooper will lead to appropriate action including termination of services where appropriate.

(2) Complaints of discrimination

Penningtons Manches Cooper will treat seriously, and will take action where appropriate concerning, all complaints of discrimination or harassment on any of the forbidden grounds made by employees, partners, clients, barristers or other third parties.

All complaints will be investigated in accordance with Penningtons Manches Cooper’s grievance or complaints procedure and the complainant will be informed of the outcome.

(3) Monitoring and review

The policy will be monitored and reviewed in a manner proportionate to the size and nature of Penningtons Manches Cooper on a regular basis (and in any event at least annually) to measure its progress and judge its effectiveness. In particular, Penningtons Manches Cooper will, as appropriate, monitor and record:

  • the diversity composition of the workforce and partners.
  • the protected characteristics of all applicants, short-listed applicants and successful applicants for jobs and training contracts.
  • the protected characteristics of all applicants for promotion (including to partnership, to the role of a member of a limited liability partnership or director of a recognised body) and training opportunities and details of whether they were successful.
  • where it is possible to do so, and where doing so will not cause offence or discomfort to those whom it is intended to protect, the protected characteristics of all partners and staff will be monitored so as to ensure that they are not being discriminated against in terms of the opportunities or benefits available to them.
  • the number and outcome of complaints of discrimination made by staff, partners barristers, clients and other third parties.
  • the disciplinary action (if any) taken against employees by protected characteristic.

This information will be used to review the progress and impact of the equal opportunities and diversity policy. Any changes required will be made and implemented.


Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP