London, Aug 14 : A body that regulates solicitors in Britain has been discriminating against ethnic minority lawyers and subjecting them to potentially ruinous investigations, an independent report has concluded.
The report finds the Solicitors Regulation Authority pays "lip service" to equality, and is plagued by a leadership that lacks "competence" on diversity issues, The Guardian reported.
It finds black and minority ethnic lawyers are "stereotyped" with SRA staff assuming guilt before they start investigating complaints against them.
It says the organisation is open to the charge of being institutionally racist and was more likely to investigate ethnic minority lawyers than white ones.
It says: "The organisation has deficiencies which impact adversely on (ethnic minority) solicitors."
Lord Ouseley, the former head of the Commission for Racial Equailty, wrote the report.
He headed an independent review, jointly commissioned by the SRA, into why black and Asian solicitors were more likely to be targeted by the organisation, which is the regulatory arm of the Law Society.
It follows years of complaints from black and Asian solicitors that the SRA treats them unfairly.
The report, to be released today, is highly critical of the organisation's leadership and says: "The SRA at present lacks the drive and the equality and diversity competence within its managerial and leadership spheres to make the changes happen."
The SRA, which was created in 2006, handles complaints against solicitors and can investigate them for a variety of matters.
Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers and a member of the working party that produced the report, said: "Black and minority solicitors faced racism. This is as serious for the legal profession as the Lawrence inquiry was for racism in the Metropolitan police."