Mark Henderson appointed to new Bar Standards Board Disability Taskforce announced this week

Mark Henderson has been appointed to the Bar Standards Board’s new Disability Taskforce. The BSB announced the public launch this week, alongside a new section on the BSB’s website explaining its membership and terms of reference, and highlighting the huge under reporting and under representation of disability at the Bar. The BSB said that of those who reported, “3.1 per cent of the Bar; 4.7 per cent of pupils; 3.3 per cent of non-QC barristers; and 1.4 per cent of QCs had declared a disability as of December 2019”.

The BSB stated that that the Taskforce will advise on:

  • how regulatory tools can be used to improve conditions for people with disabilities at the Bar;
  • reviewing and improving routes into the Bar, making it a more accessible and inclusive profession;
  • improving the culture at the Bar to strengthen the retention of disabled barristers; 

The BSB also announced an official launch event on 15 September 2022 titled “Being disabled at the Bar: the regulator’s perspective on disability inclusion and supporting disabled talent” with speakers including Mark Henderson. The BSB said of the event that: “Our Disability Taskforce will share their vision on how regulation might play a part in supporting a more disability aware and inclusive profession. The event will be an opportunity to hear about the successes and challenges faced by disabled barristers across the profession.”


Under its new Terms of Reference, the Taskforce will advise the BSB on matters including: 

2.1 Regulation - How regulatory tools can be used to influence improved disability equality outcomes at the Bar: 

 • How disability inequality is impacted by the Bar’s working cultures and professional environment 

• Best practice related to disability inclusion, which considers intersectionalities with other protected characteristics and lived experiences, including gender, race, sexual orientation and class, and how it could be used by the Bar to advance disability inclusion

 • Priority areas for the Bar and BSB to focus on in addressing weakness in current provision and practice and how regulation can underpin culture change and work in tandem with the Bar to promote values through practical application. 

• How disability inequality is impacted by issues of intersectionality with those we regulate 

• A strategy for the next three years to include what expectations should be set for individual chambers and employers of barristers and what specific activities BSB should consider taking forward, recommending or facilitating to effect change in these areas and to increase wider awareness of and improve issues of disability equality and inclusion

2.2. Routes into the Bar:  

• To inspire disabled people to join the Bar by raising awareness of the Bar as a career

• Disability access and equality in all routes to qualification at the Bar

• Ensuring that diversity and inclusion is designed in from the outset in BSB examinations and assessments and built into the course

• Involving students or those in pupillages in the design of processes

• Ensuring that disabled candidates have equal access to pupillage and that chambers’ approaches to recruitment are fair and inclusive and that alternative assessment methods are considered and developed to shift Chambers away from sifting on narrow criteria

• Priorities for action