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Former Nottinghamshire MP Anna Soubry reveals she is earning less than a tenner an hour in some cases after she returned to the Bar in Nottingham. She certainly did not swap Parliament for the courtroom for the money, but for the love of the job.
Ms Soubry, who lost her seat as an MP in 2019 after defecting to Change UK, says nobody wants to go on strike. The Government set up an independent review to look at barrister’s pay and it should be honoured, she says.
“The least the Government can do is to honour at least the basic, at least the basic, and they haven’t even done that,” says Ms Soubry, who joined KCH Garden Square last October. Since returning to life in wig and gown, she has been struck by the lack of barristers coming into the profession.
“Now the reason we don’t have enough barristers is not because we don’t have enough youngsters leaving uni with law degrees or whatever, people coming in. We don’t have enough coming in because they are not choosing to do crime because the fees are so low.
“The same broken blind dangling at the same angle in the abandoned cafe has come to symbolise the crumbling courts and criminal justice system…I am struck by how utterly fed up and worn out my colleagues are.”
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— Anna Soubry (@Anna_Soubry)
“So they haven’t got the young people coming in and the numbers that we need, and then we are not retaining the more mature barrister; they are leaving as well.
“There are some cases where you are paid less than £10 an hour. I think the thing is obviously you are self-employed. All barristers have to register for VAT, so we pay 20% on our fees in VAT, then obviously we have the Chamber’s expenses. It’s not excessive. We keep it as low as we can.
“You have to have people who are physically instructed; take a phone call to sort out the work and everything. Then you have your Chamber’s expenses which is anywhere between 15%, because you are self-employed, obviously, you don’t get sick pay. You don’t get holiday pay and you don’t get a pension. So you have got to make provision for that. The other thing is most barristers prosecute and defend and the work we do is really serious.
“I’m really troubled about the strike action but everybody is. Nobody wants to do that. I think it has put a lot of us in a very difficult situation, because you feel a very strong duty to your client. I sat in a court today and two men in the dock both in prison, both in for trial again, and it couldn’t go ahead because their barrister was not available. He was in another case.
“Normally if a barrister was in another case, another barrister would represent. But that’s what the action is, we are working to rule – the defence – not the prosecution. We have a huge backlog and nobody wants to add to it, but the Government can’t solve the backlog unless we have more barristers and, if we get our fees to where they should be, one, it will stop the drain – that’s really good people leaving because they have had enough of it.
“If we get the fees that have been recommended by this independent review commissioned by the government, we will much more easily recruit the younger members.
“I am back because I enjoy it. I certainly don’t do it for the money. For the juniors, some of them generally are on less than the average national wage”.
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Written by: thehitnetwork
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