Barrister 'feared for career' after 'sanction' threat if she joined strike action

27 June 2022, 15:02 | Updated: 27 June 2022, 18:55

'The pay is just awful. The work conditions are just awful.'

By James Bickerton

A junior barrister has revealed she feared her 'career could be over' if she joined today's strike action, after a judge warned her she would risk 'sanction' if she participated.

Hundreds of barristers are on strike across England and Wales in a dispute over pay and conditions.

Appearing on James O'Brien's LBC show Emma, from Guilford, revealed she supports the action but had been unable to take part.

She said: "I voted to strike but the judge in my case told me if I did go on strike my name would be sent to a presiding judge for the area of the court, with a view to be sent on for a sanction. So I've been told if I engage in a strike there's going to be a sanction.

"The Lord Chief Justice passed down an edict that the judge in our area has interpreted as a mandatory referral to the presiding judge.

"That is not a decision being taken by every judge, that is just a decision being taken by this judge.

"I've taken advice from the Criminal Bar Association. Our judge is interpreting it differently and as a consequence I'm now terrified if I engage in a strike, to save my career down the line, my career could be over because I'll have a sanction against me."

The strike action disrupted eight out of 10 cases at the Old Bailey and will continue on Tuesday.

Barristers go on strike in Manchester

It is planned to last four weeks, with an extra strike day being added each week, culminating in a five-day strike from 18-22 July.

Emma hit out at her pay and working conditions, which have led her to consider quitting as a barrister.

She commented: "I voted to strike because the pay is just awful. The work conditions are just awful.

"I earned about £17,000 last year and that wasn't through lack of trying. I got married last year - if I want to start a family I can just forget it.

"I worked so hard for this. It shouldn't be right that several years later I still have to think about potentially leaving and throwing it in."

READ MORE: Barristers walk out of courts in strike over pay with over 1,000 cases affected each day