Speaking up on bullying judges

20 March 2018

Amid reports of judicial bullying of barristers, Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar, commented:

"As the representative body for all barristers in England and Wales, we strongly condemn any bullying or inappropriate treatment of our members by judges, or by any other legal professionals they encounter. We know it can happen, and we have resources available to support barristers on our Wellbeing at the Bar website, and we can give advice and guidance via our confidential helplines.

"Our advice is always to be civil but firm with any bullying judge, opponent or clerk; to seek advice about it; and to report it.  Both the Bar Council and Bar leaders are committed to making sure that bullying is addressed and not tolerated.

"We do recognise that, in the same way that many barristers are working under increasing pressure in challenging areas of practice, so too are many judges. Barristers may be the first target of judges' frustrations borne from matters beyond their control - such as the rising number of individuals having to represent themselves in court, without any legal expertise, as a result of cuts to legal aid, leading to cases being much more difficult to deal with and taking much longer.  Poor court conditions and a heavy workload of troubling cases can also take their toll on those involved - barristers and judges alike. There is a pressing need to address these much wider problems with the functioning of our legal system, but none of them excuses bullying. Bullying has no place in our courts."

Notes to Editors

  1. Wellbeing at the Bar offers a number of resources to barristers, clerks and pupils, including on bullying: https://www.wellbeingatthebar.org.uk/problems/bullying-barristers/

  2. The Bar Council offers a confidential equality and diversity helpline to all pupils and members of the Bar. The direct line telephone number is 020 7611 1320.

  3. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.