Exclusive interview: Judge Rinder on life as Britain’s newest reality TV star

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2 Hare Court barrister Rob Rinder talks to Legal Cheek about being the UK’s answer to Judge Judy


Most barristers reckon they’d be a dab hand on telly or the stage; and most are undoubtedly wrong. Robert Rinder of the Temple’s 2 Hare Court, on the other hand, has taken to television effortlessly. His performance on ITV’s new daytime hit, Judge Rinder, is alternatively effervescent, comic, dramatic, sensitive, sensible and proudly camp.

Judge Rinder launched this week in a first series that is scheduled to run into early September, and it is unashamedly British television’s answer to the monumentally successful Judge Judy phenomenon in the US.

That programme — which for the last 18 years has featured senior New York family court judge Judith Sheindlin — attracts nearly 10 million daily viewers (and sees Sheindlin pull in a reported $45 million (£26 million) a year for her troubles). It would be unfair to expect Judge Rinder ever to woo such a large audience, but, according to Rinder himself, the programme has got off to a flying start. Viewing figures for the second day were estimated at 1.1 million, roughly double that of the station’s flagship breakfast programme.

Despite initial success, the decision to jump into daytime television — viewed by many as a swamp of low-brow mind-numbing drivel — is a risk for any serious lawyer.

“My main concern,” says Rinder in an exclusive interview with Legal Cheek, and his first since the programme launched, “was that while I accepted the programme had to have a significant entertainment element, it also had to have integrity. I was adamant that we had to make it clear to viewers that I am in fact a practising criminal barrister and not a civil law judge.

“But after discussing the issues with the team I was confident that they appreciated those concerns and that they knew what they were doing.”

Was he nervous that a career as a predominantly criminal law specialist would not suit the exclusively low grade civil claims before the TV court?

“For the last few years I’ve been doing complicated criminal cases that have a quasi-civil edge to them,” says Rinder. “Also, I have a legal adviser on the show — and to be fair, often the legal principles involved in the cases are not difficult. They are basic consumer issues, neighbourhood disputes and allegations of negligence.”

Rinder’s involvement stemmed from his general interest in pitching ideas for television programmes. He had been pushing an update to the seventies classic Crown Court, when he found himself chatting to ITV’s head of daytime programming at the beginning of this year.

“I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to be a television judge,” says Rinder. “But I’d been involved in a very heavy complex case and I told the head of daytime programming that I needed a diversion and that I’d love to be on TV as a type of Judge Judy figure. She thought that was a great idea.”

Then the wheels turned much faster than production ideas normally do in the world of TV. After a few meetings to agree the format, a production schedule was drafted, involving only one rehearsal at the end of June with actors playing the roles of litigants. Filming kicked off in earnest at the beginning of July and only finished a fortnight ago.

The team was on a hectic schedule of filming up to nine cases a day, completing around 60 in total.

“The production team is incredible,” says Rinder. “It takes a substantial amount of time just to get one case through the stringent compliance regime dictated by Ofcom. It is a regulatory minefield. Under Ofcom’s regulations, I can only suggest a performance be made by one party, for example, the handing back of a set of tools. I can’t oblige them to do it. But I am allowed to make awards of damages.”

Some of the cases run for much longer than their allocated broadcast time and have to be cut considerably. One lasted for more than 90 minutes and eventually had to be squeezed into a 20-minute slot.


Rinder — who is very much still taking instructions at the bar (“although I always inform my clients about my participation in the show”) — maintains that so far the reaction he has encountered to the still young programme has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I was very apprehensive about the reaction of lawyers. My chambers has been supportive, but then it is populated by very confident barristers, who are not going to be threatened or upset by random comments that the programme somehow brings down the brand.”

To potential critics making just that point, Rinder asks that no-one judge the show without having seen it. And then they should ask two basic questions:

“Has the law been applied fairly and have the principles been applied correctly?”

And he argues the programme-makers are performing a service by bringing illustrating how basic disputes can be resolved sensibly.

“The issues at stake in the programme are extremely important to the people involved,” he says. “As lawyers, we tend to get complacent about value — we might think that a claim of a few hundred pounds is not worth getting het-up over. But to ordinary people, £500 means a great deal.”

The two queries about the programme that most annoy Rinder are that his own rapid-fire dialogue has been scripted (it isn’t, he says) and that the litigants are bringing manufactured claims (again, he says they aren’t).

What was the biggest nightmare in the making of Judge Rinder as Britain’s newest reality television star?

“I broke down in a fit of laughter during a case involving a mother and daughter suing and counter-suing each other. But I insisted that the production team keep the scene in.”

Judge Rinder is on ITV everyday at 2pm.


Lee Halfpenny

The show is a joke. It portrays a terrible picture of the English legal system which many will otherwise be unfamiliar with and who now base their impression on this drivel. He should be ashamed.


Terry Pickering

How Is It A Joke ? The Man ( Judge Robert Rinder ) Makes It Look Simple Tho He Has Got To Make Tough Decissions !!! Don’t Like It Don’t Watch Simple’s. PEACE



Yep day time tv. Read a book or watch grown up tv if you dont like it…i love it.



I have to agree with you Mick – was a bit dubious at first cos I used to love Judge Judy but I now love this geezer & love the programme & I really don’t CARE if I’m a saddo hahaha!!!!



Lee halfpenny, who rattled your cage?! It’s a great show that helps people with real civil matters,ur obviously a boring dumb twat with no grasp on modern culture…piss off u homophobe!!



Good on you Carrie – some people simply don’t have a clue sometimes!!!! I love it!!!



good for you Carrie on the subject of Lee Halfpenny. He doesn’t know what hes talking about. Judge Rinder is fantastic. I wish all judges were like him. Great show !!



I cant get over you talking like you did about Lee Halfpenny. You were fantastic !! good on you !!


Jenny davies

Don’t knock him fantastic man cheers me up no end after boring tv programmes.



I agree this show is a joke, and Mr Rinder should be disbarred. He is dramatising a 1000 year old system for the sake of TV and money, that he probably doesn’t need.


The Real Niteowl

Actually it’s much older.

Ever heard of the Danelaw?

I guess they didn’t teach you that at your Ye Olde Famouse & World’s Best Oxbridge.



I agree with you Lee its legally incorrect. I work in the legal system and nothing like this would happen. In the political correctness days we know find ourselves living in the Judge would never be allowed to speak to anyone the way he does and a lot of his decisions are nonsense.
However I do find him very funny, and we would love to be able to speak to people as he does but we would never be allowed and would very soon be out of a job.
This is poor television and that’s the reason its on at 2pm in the afternoon and not in prime time.



June, what are you talking about. You work in the Legal System! So what! Judge Rinder is fair and makes a good judge. It is not poor television and is not the reason for the 2pm slot. Get a life !



Get over it people
judge rinder brings a breath of fresh air.


Steve Penk

The programme is an inspired commission and a brilliant piece of casting by ITV’s head of daytime. Rinder is compelling TV and deserves to be the success it’s turning out to be. Most of British daytime has become a little boring and predictable (how many episodes can you watch of Bargain Hunt? It’s the same thing every bloody day.
Rinder is hugely likeable and great talkability television which in turn results in great viewing figures.
Well done ITV daytime, I love it.


The Real Niteowl

Do you know how I know you’re right?

His audience is bored housewives on bennies, the mainstay of your society.

Re the law below from DC and NA: It’s quite funny that the Continental Europeans are actually changing the “hallowed” English C/L “system”, which is no longer yours, for the better.



America! Fuck yeah! Coming again to save the mother fucking day yeah!



Brilliant 🙂 lol


Niteowl Solicitor

I’m Niteowl Attorney’s British distant cousin. Just thought you’d like to know to pay back the debt from my cousin’s sterling work here, I’ll be offering my services on abovethelaw’s message board, reminding them that their country is a dependency of China and Saudi Arabia, that Yale and Harvard are terrible, and that New York and Washington are pitied by the whole world. I’ve no facts to back this up, but what the hey. I’m too kind, I know.


The Real Niteowl

1. Above The Law would probably be your “cup of tea”.

2. We are a dependency of no one, but possibly Kim Kardashian’s tush. These countries mean nothing without thirst for goods/oil, and we built them from nothings into somethings.

3. No one here regards Yale and Harvard as the pinnacle. CIT, MIT and RPI are considered more highly, as are other institutions that do not necessarily bear the name “university”. Perhaps you could learn something from this.

4. NYC and DC are flooded by emigres from your impoverished nation – one that is poorer than every state in the union bar Mississippi (use something from California called “Google” to verify this, if you need to) – emigres who usually kiss the ground upon arrival.

5. We brake for no one – have a nice day.



Your talking out of your ass! I am not a bored house-wife on benefits. I’m a working tax-payer (not everyone works from 9 to 5, DUMMY).Forget day-time TV, give this program a proper airing, PRIME TIME TV. How refreshing to see a ENGLISH program that I actually WANT to watch.



Well cock – you’re obviously a total wanker ain’t you?? Got nothing to say that’s remotely intelligent? Then just shut your big gob!!!



I agree. Love this man. So camp the british will love him. Are we being served by this or it aint half hot….sorry …



Whoopee Steve – I love it too!!!!!



This does nothing to explain the law, I would prefer a honest attempt to explain the law for the lay person program and not a vehicle for ones Ego….


Not Amused

Finally a tantalising bit of information that lawyers actually care about – “just to get one case through the stringent compliance regime dictated by Ofcom. It is a regulatory minefield. Under Ofcom’s regulations, I can only suggest a performance be made by one party, for example, the handing back of a set of tools. I can’t oblige them to do it. But I am allowed to make awards of damages.”

Unfortunately it has left me further confused.

I had assumed the show operated by way of an arbitration agreement signed between the parties whereby the arbitration would be filmed and Rinder would be the arbitrator. (under the 1996 Arbitration Act).

But I can’t be right because any claim under £5,000 is precluded from arbitration under section 91 and the Unfair Arbitration Agreements (Specified Amount) Order 1999/2167.

So what is actually happening when he “resolves” a case? Well I next considered section 64 of the County Courts Act 1984. But that can’t work because there is presumably no live court proceedings and no court order referring the case.

So then I started to wonder about how the Beth Din functions; because I know they deal with a range of disputes. Obviously any over £5,000 are covered by the Act. But those under £5,000? That didn’t really help me because here it seems that the Beth Din only functions by consent and without the benefit of the Act.

Rinder himself cites Ofcom. I don’t understand that if I’m honest. Firstly does he mean the broadcasting codes? I can’t seem to find anything which specifically deals with televised dispute resolution or the processes/powers involved.

I’ve said before that I worry about the term Judge and I assume Rinder did too which is why they make it clear that he is not a judge on the programme – which probably is enough.

I appreciate that not everyone cares about understanding the legal framework of the show; but I do. I’m not certain the awards he makes are enforceable so I wonder if that will cause problems down the line – or maybe no one cares because it’s just entertainment? On the other hand (which might cheer him up) when he says he’s limited to awards of money then I don’t see what limits him – if the only legal framework is the contract between the two parties and ITV then just stick in a clause saying he can make other types of awards and get their consent. It’s not as though the awards are enforceable anyway.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve not seen the show and I also don’t want to be taken to be either ‘for’ or ‘against’ this sort of thing, what I am interested in is the law. If we as a nation really like him then Parliament can always amend the 96 Act to put in a TV ‘judge’ clause !



I believe the ‘awards’ are given out of a budget for the show. Not to exceed the statutory limit of 5000, as it is in the U.S.. I also believe they contact litigants who have already filed a case and asked both parties if they would agree to appear on the show. Stipulations are made that whatever cash awards are meted out will be the final word on their case and they both agree to drop the claim in the civil courts for that option. When Judge Rinder states he cannot ‘force compliance with say, “the return of tools”, it is understood by both parties that material items will not be awarded outside the determined cash award. I LOVE the show…it is mainly entertainment, but does offer advice to the lay person about proper strategies to employ to avoid ending up in small claims.



Looking at it very briefly: section 91 of the 1996 Act has the effect of making an arbitration agreement “unfair” within the terms of 1994 regs. However the 1994 regs only apply to seller/supplier-consumer contracts. Presumably then a low value arbitration agreement between two individuals (where neither is a seller/supplier) is unaffected.


Not Amused

Well I confess that confused me because according to my Westlaw the 1994 regs have been repealed. I am (quite obviously by now I guess) not used to small claims or good on consumer law. So if I just defer to you and assume you are right – then aren’t we back asking why Rinder can’t make any non-damages based awards? Because clearly under section 48 he can have powers if they just stuck them in.



Was being lazy and using rather than Westlaw. Will have another look later and try and trace it through properly: this is becoming an intriguing mystery.

I wonder if Offcom have broadcasting rules about what members of the public appearing on TV can and can’t agree to generally, rather than in just a TV-judge situation. It would make sense if they forbade specifically enforceable agreements or something similar.


Not Amused

Yes I think it is an interesting question. But definitely double check anything I find because this is completely out of my comfort zone!

Interesting though


Not Amused

Just checked the caselaw on s.91 and can only find 2. One a builder vs a consumer, one and architect vs consumer. Does Rinder limit himself to not resolving builder disputes (I would have thought they made good telly)

I also note the growing body of German case law focuses mainly on the disparity of resources between the parties; but presumably that doesn’t apply because the system they use doesn’t involve lawyers for the parties at all?

Maybe this is actually a very good idea. Maybe some enterprising company should set up small claims arbitration courts that everyone can agree to use. (they needn’t all be televised) Because let’s face it, you’d be pretty silly to use the Court system for any claim less that 50K these days (possibly higher) and maybe this would give us real consumer level justice … hmmm …



I’m not sure I see the advantage for a consumer of a private arbitration over small claims. At least with small claims the judge is basically free, and there’s no costs risk provided your claim isn’t completely bonkers. I also think that for most people using small claims it is as much about having their day in court than anything else, so a private arbitration probably wouldn’t give the same sense of spiritual satisfaction.



Hit the nail on the head – the day in court factor would be a huge incentive as presumably having one’s day ON TV would be even more satisfying… My understanding is that material/performance orders cannot be made because the awards are paid by the production company, so Judge R can enforce that they write a cheque, whereas he cannot enforce the defendant returning tools/furniture/pets to the Plaintiff/Claimant. And I believe it is broadly structured as an ‘agreed by both parties’ Arbitration under the Act.


Juan Pertayta

Not my area, but surely a DIY small claim is simple enough and cheap enough to make an arbitration pointless?

As to Ofcom, I can see nothing that would even remotely engage private rights between two ‘performers’. That bit looks like BS to me.


Annie Onimouse

“My chambers has been supportive, but then it is populated by very confident barristers, who are not going to be threatened or upset by random comments that the programme somehow brings down the brand.”


In my opinion, most of the Bar would be quietly mortified to be in chambers with someone doing this.



Annie, the bar needs to loosen up.



Have m’learned friends noticed the positive comments on each of the Judge Rinder articles – each of uniformly similar voice and length, with a sprinkling of clumsily intentional spelling mistakes?

This page:
Steve Penk, August 15 2014 10:15am

‘The 7 best moments from Judge Rinder’s impressive ITV debut’:
Christine Delaney August 13, 2014 5:02pm
Kathy Bainbridge August 13, 2014 6:08pm
James Lindsay August 13, 2014 9:33pm
Peter Jones August 14, 2014 3:12pm
(Mrs Linda love August 14, 2014 7:05pm?)
(Lesley August 15, 2014 11:44am?)

To whichever PR agency has this particular account: B- must try harder.


Scott La' Chance

Hi, can somebody with a genuine legal background please tell me in everyday terms whether the TV show simply relies upon the mutual goodwill of its participants to arbitrate in their affairs? Or are the judgements that are made by Judge Rinder legally binding and validated by real uk courts of law? In particular, I’m wondering what would happen if one party refused to comply with Judge Rinder’s ruling?


edith boal

then they send in the Sheriffs to uplift items to sell eg cars, tv ,furniture ….,,,,and if you don’t like it ,,,,,there is the off button ,,,,,,,,press.



The production company pays the awards quietly behind the scenes – because taking part in the show, parties have to agree that the case has not and will not be taken thru the County/Small Claims Court. So bailiffs are not an option, so why else would you bother, and its a good incentive for defendants to take part (otherwise why would you want to be shown up on TV?!)


Not Amused

With respect that is what DC and I were trying to work out.

We think they are probably enforceable and probably under the Arbitration Act 1996. But the reason it’s not that clear is because the cases are a really low value. You just don’t engage in legal proceedings over low value cases – so it’s hard for us to be definitive because we can’t find case law.



Section 91 extends the regulations or such regulations as revoke or replace them to arbitration agreements. So it is the new (1999) unfair terms regs that apply. Those regs only apply to consumer contracts, defined in regulation 4(1) as one between a seller or a supplier and a consumer. Seller or supplier is broadly defined and would include a builder, so the show presumably can’t deal with such cases unless the value is sufficiently high. Provided he sticks to cases between individuals not acting in the course of trade or business though, I don’t see that section 91 poses any problem for Rinder J. I assume the same is true of the Beth Din and other community-type arbitration arrangements.



Anyway, enough of this foray into the world of consumer law. I must stop dicking about on this website and do some proper work. If only Niteowl weren’t so damned entertaining…



If County Court proceedings had already been issued, it would be easier to see it all based on an agreement to mediate, followed by a Tomlin Order. Wouldn’t then need to worry about arbitration legislation, and the Court would be told the case had settled. Clarification from the producers would be useful. That said – even without a Tomlin Order, what court would entertain a small claim from somebody who had “failed” on TV? And the party taking it to court would face a very real risk of a substantial adverse costs order!



All you haters its tv


Jim Carver

The format of Judge Judy on which this tripe Is based states that all monetary awards are awarded from a fund maintained by the producers. I assume with the low values involved then the same sort of thing happens here.



What a brilliant programme Judge Rinder is. Love it. He is fair and with a sense of humour. Wish all judges were like him. Hope there are many more programmes of him in action



I stumbled on to this programme by accident ad waited until the case that had just started had finished. This was a monumental waste of 10 minutes of my life. Rinder asks that we apply 2 questions to his “performance” First, “Was the law applied correctly? I sincerely hope not. Awarding a cash settlement of rent money to a tenant of a property whose own rent is paid by the state,.by someone she sublet a room to illegally ( she didn`t notify the Council of her paying tenant) cannot possibly be right either morally or legally. Rinder is a joke. He has neither the nous, nor the gravitas of Judge Judy Sheindlin and this programme deeply embarrassed me. He sounded and behaved like a 4th rate solicitor. What can they have been thinking of ?


Uncle Solicitor

He sounded and behaved like a 4th rate solicitor. What can they have been thinking of ?

I believe my dear that the phrase in question is “What could they have been thinking”, something my dear wife says many times each day. You also refer to a fourth rate solicitor, which is not a bad choice, considering that a fourth rate solicitor Knows and Applies the Law better than most first rate barristers, of which there are few, and the ones that that there are got this way by being solicitors first.


Lord Stoat

Would be a better show if Rinder were not such a nasty little piece.



Hey stoat – why do you think Rinder is a ‘nasty little piece’??? Piece of WHAT exacly? I don’t find him nasty at all so why do YOU???


Lord Stoat

No need to shout.



Seems as though Judge Rinder has a good following.


Judge Dredd

More like Judge Grinder


No Job

LOL Judge Grinder!! its funny coz i know what that is


a fortiori

All cases are small claims, never criminal and all based around a case settlement (which ITV pays). Both parties agree to abide by the judges decision prior to filming the show.

Ofcom has no bearing on the legal decisions made or the outcome of the cases, they regulate the content of the show as they would any other, for fairness and to make sure it adheres to the standards they outline within their code which ITV adhere to.*

* Source (assistant producer)


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