Bullying of barristers and other lawyers by judges has no place in the courts, the Chair of the Bar, Andrew Walker QC, has said, after press reports highlighted the issue.
Walker’s comments came after an article in Counsel magazine by Jo Delahunty QC on why much judicial bullying goes unchallenged was picked up by the national press.
The Chair of the Bar said: “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.”
Walker added: “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.”