Pearn Kandola report into issues of disproportionality

Last updated 1 July 2013

In 2009, the SRA commissioned Pearn Kandola, a group of business psychologists who specialise in the area of diversity, to look in more detail at the SRA's regulatory outcomes. This followed the report published in 2008 by Lord Ouseley highlighting that Black and minority ethnic (BME) solicitors were over represented in a number of key regulatory outcomes at the SRA.

Their report and the SRA's progress in meeting their recommendations are available to download below.


Since 2004, monitoring data has shown that BME solicitors have been over-represented in a number of regulatory decisions and outcomes.

In October 2007 the SRA commissioned Lord Ouseley to undertake an independent review into the issue of disproportionality and he reported his findings in July 2008. One of his recommendations was for the SRA to commission further research into why there were disproportionate outcomes for BME solicitors: Download Lord Ouseley's report, July 2008 (PDF 106 pages, 542K)

The Pearn Kandola report

Pearn Kandola reported its work in two stages:

  • an interim report setting out the background and looking at the experience of other regulators; and
  • a final report analysing the SRA regulatory statistics to help us better understand how and where the disproportionality was occurring.

Pearn Kandola's interim report (PDF 23 pages, 894K) concluded that, although disproportionality existed in many regulatory systems, very few regulators had done detailed work in the area.

Pearn Kandola's final report (PDF 73 pages, 480K) found that there is a disproportionate number of cases involving BME solicitors reported to the SRA, which means that it is almost inevitable that there will be some disproportionality in the outcomes of these cases. Pearn Kandola also found that for some regulatory outcomes the original disproportionality was increased, in some areas it remained the same and in others the disproportionality was reduced. Pearn Kandola identified a number of factors which might explain the disproportionality for BME solicitors, for example, solicitors in small firms, solicitors working for BME owned firms and solicitors with fewer years on the roll were all more likely to have a case brought against them and in each of these groups, BME solicitors were over-represented.

The SRA welcomed the report, which gave us a much more detailed view of where the disproportionality was arising, and where we should be directing our efforts. We accepted the majority of the recommendations in the report, and developed an action plan in response which is published at the end of the final report.

We have published a report of our progress and the findings of seven separate case audits which we undertook as recommended by Pearn Kandola to look in more detail at the areas of our decision making where there was increased disproportionality.

Although there was no evidence of unfairness or discrimination found in any of our case audits, we did identify a number of areas where we needed to make improvements in the way we were working to strengthen the quality of our decision making and transparency. This included better data recording to make future monitoring more effective and improved recording of reasons for our decisions.

The Pearn Kandola report and the case audits largely focused on data and decision making processes in use during 2009. We have transformed the way we work since then, implementing the SRA Handbook in 2011. This signalled the beginning of our move to outcomes-focused regulation and we have introduced new processes to support our decision making as well as reviewing all of our decision making criteria.