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Code of Conduct for Members

Lincoln’s Inn is committed to providing a welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment for members and employees.

Code of Conduct

Members of Lincoln’s Inn shall:

  1. Behave with integrity and treat others with respect and consideration

  2. Promote an inclusive, welcoming, collaborative, and supportive environment at the Inn, recognising and valuing diversity

  3. Be aware of differences in power and influence and avoid conduct that exploits these, or might be perceived as doing so

  4. Respect other people’s personal space

  5. Treat sensitive or personal information with discretion and tact, respecting confidentiality

  6. Report and / or challenge the behaviour of others when it falls short of the standards expected

An important feature of the Inn’s culture is behaviour by members which models consideration and respect, regardless of ethnicity, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, national origin, language, religion, disability or socio-economic background.

This Code of Conduct applies to all members (benchers, barristers, and students alike) when representing the Inn, working on the Inn’s behalf, using the Inn’s collegiate facilities, or attending an Inn event (educational, business, or social, in any location).  The standards described apply to all forms of written, electronic or face-to-face communication.  They reflect the Inns of Court Anti-Harassment Policy and the Inn’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement.

The Inn encourages discussion and disagreement: this code is not intended to stifle debate.  What matters is the way that it is conducted.

The Inn does not regulate members’ behaviour in their professional lives, which is subject to standards set out by the Bar Standards Board and other relevant professional bodies.

Guidance

The table below provides some guidance by listing examples of behaviour supportive of and contrary to the six-point code above.  These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.  For the avoidance of doubt, a failure to behave in a manner described as “supporting the code” would not necessarily involve a breach of the code.

More generally it is important to bear in mind that:

  • Senior members have a special responsibility in shaping the culture of the Inn.  Differences in power and influence will be more apparent to those who have less.  Behaviour which might be perceived as exploiting status and seniority must be avoided.
  • Things go wrong when remarks intended in one spirit come across entirely differently to the recipient. A poorly chosen word or phrase or a bad joke can unintentionally make others feel uncomfortable.  Much more care is needed with people whom you do not know well than with long-standing personal friends.
  • Remarks which draw attention to physical and ethnicity characteristics identify points of difference and are often perceived as excluding and ill-mannered.
  • Assumptions about areas of practice related to ethnicity or gender are also inaccurate and unwelcome, as is casual exclusion of members of the employed bar in references to the self-employed as ‘the independent Bar’.
  • Alcohol is often freely available at functions.  It affects everyone differently.  Over-consumption resulting in disinhibition has been a source of real embarrassment and serious conduct issues.
  • Everyone can get it wrong – if you have given offence, or fear that you may have done, the simplest way of dealing with it is to apologise at the time.

This guidance is intended to be helpful and is kept under review. If you believe something is missing or unclear please contact the Under Treasurer.

Breaches of the Code

It is important to know when things are going wrong.  Anyone concerned about a failure to comply with this Code or about inappropriate behaviour should raise their concerns, so they can be addressed.  Nobody will be penalised for reporting concerns or making a complaint.

Concerns should be raised initially with a member of the Inn’s Executive Team:

Under Treasurer – anne.sharp@lincolnsinn.org.uk
Director of Operations and Communications – rachel.hooper@lincolnsinn.org.uk
Director of Membership & Education – faye.appleton@lincolnsinn.org.uk
Director of Estates – philip.ardley@lincolnsinn.org.uk
Director of Finance – katie.shubrook@lincolnsinn.org.uk
HR Director – nathalie.brule@lincolnsinn.org.uk
Librarian – dunstan.speight@lincolnsinn.org.uk

Members of the Executive Team may consult with each other, the chair of a relevant Inn committee, and the Treasurer in deciding the appropriate course of action.

Some matters can be resolved quickly and informally.  However, where appropriate the procedures set out in the Inn’s complaints policy will be followed.  In some cases, the subject of the complaint may be required to refrain from participation in Inn activities until the matter is resolved.

Members will be aware that BSB Handbook (Rule RC66) requires barristers to report to the BSB if they ‘have reasonable ground to believe that there has been serious misconduct’.  Breaches of the law or professional standards will be reported, as relevant, to the police or Bar Standards Board.

Examples of behaviour supportive of and contrary to the Code

These are examples of behaviour supportive of and contrary to the six-point code above.  These examples are not intended to be exhaustive.

Behave with integrity and treat others with respect and consideration

Supporting the Code

  • Listening to the views of others with respect, conducting debate and expressing differences politely and constructively, tactfully moving the conversation on where appropriate.
  • Remaining respectful to those around you
  • Being honest and fair in interactions with the Inn and other members
  • Showing appreciation for people’s efforts by thanking them

Contrary to the Code

  • Shouting, swearing or behaving towards others in a way that they might reasonably perceive as aggressive or harassing.
  • Using terms that could be derogatory or patronising, e.g. nicknames or terms of endearment to those you do not know well
  • Persistently talking over others and imposing your personal beliefs on them
  • Focussing on blame rather than helping others resolve problems

Promote an inclusive, welcoming, collaborative, and supportive environment at the Inn, recognising and valuing diversity

Supporting the Code

  • Being aware of personal bias and how it can impact your interactions with others
  • Adjusting your behaviour for those who may not be comfortable with social practices which are the norm for you, such as physical greetings.
  • Inviting the views of others and listening to what they have to say.
  • Working constructively with others and valuing different points of view and different ways of doing things
  • Appreciating and respecting the skills and contributions of others, especially if they are junior or less influential than you are
  • Delivering feedback on points of improvement in a way that is constructive and encouraging when teaching or mentoring

Contrary to the Code

  • Making derogatory comments or using inappropriate language about people who are different from you, for example in terms of social background, ethnicity or other protected characteristic
  • Undermining initiatives designed to improve diversity at the Inn and in the profession
  • Offensive humour, offensive banter or sexual innuendo
  • Introducing conversational topics that may make people uncomfortable, such as sexual or medical issues
  • Pressurising others to consume alcohol – if people are mixing in “the bar” or “over drinks”.

Be aware of the differences in power and influence and avoid conduct that exploits these, or might be perceived as doing so

Supporting the Code

  • Welcoming those who are new to a committee or group and inviting their views
  • Treating those less senior or of lower status than you with respect

Contrary to the Code

  • Patronising, rude or undermining behaviour towards people less senior than you or to new members of a group
  • Treating those less senior than you in a visibly different way than those who are your peers.
  • Romantic / sexual advances to trainees, pupils, or students while their teacher, mentor or similar.

Respect other people’s personal space

Supporting the Code

  • Consistent behaviour towards people which avoids singling some out for excessive attention, physical or otherwise
  • Recognising that some people are not comfortable with any physical contact, which they find threatening rather than inclusive

Contrary to the Code

  • Making inappropriate comments about a person’s appearance, including excessively flattering comments, which are often unwelcome.
  • Unwelcome physical greetings or other touching of people

Treat sensitive or personal information with discretion, tact, respecting confidentiality

Supporting the Code

  • Keeping to yourself sensitive or personal information which someone has shared with you.

Contrary to the Code

  • Using contact details provided for professional purposes to make personal contact
  • Pressing people to tell you more than they wish through invasive, hostile, or insensitive questions.
  • Failure to keep personal information about others safe or to dispose of it securely when you no longer need it

Report and / or challenge the behaviour of others when it falls short of the standards expected

Supporting the Code

  • Calmly challenge or question behaviour at the time if you can do this with tact and without causing distress
  • Countering any bad behaviour you may witness with your own positive conduct
  • Telling a member of the Inn’s executive team about breaches of the code which you witness
  • Where appropriate, offering support and reassurance to anyone who has been subject to behaviour that does not comply with the code.

Contrary to the Code

  • Disregarding behaviour because it has not had a direct impact on you