Minimum pay for pupil barristers up £94 in London and £279 elsewhere

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By Thomas Connelly on

Very modest uplifts didn’t go down well on Twitter

Minimum pupillage awards across England and Wales are set to rise again following an annual review, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) confirmed.

Chambers in London will have to pay pupils at least £18,960 in London, while those elsewhere will receive a minimum of £16,601. The rises, effective from 1 January 2020, equate to an extra £94 and £279 a year, respectively. The previous rates were £18,866 and £16,322.

The award is set with regard to the Living Wage Foundation’s hourly rate recommendations, which are announced in November each year. This currently sits at £10.85 an hour in London and £9.50 for the rest of the UK.

The modest uplifts didn’t go down well with lawyers on social media, with criminal barrister and author The Secret Barrister tweeting:

“For a (conservative) estimate of 50 hours a week, this works out at a princely £6.39 / £7.29 an hour. Minimum wage is £8.72. The bar must do better.”

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“I don’t think that these are figures to be celebrated,” Carmelite Chambers barrister James Lloyd said. “We simply are not doing enough to break down barriers to entry of the profession.”

Stephen Davies, a criminal solicitor at Tuckers, described the rises as “absolutely scandalous” before adding, “I’m afraid I do not support this whatsoever and I query how this can possibly be justified?”

The BSB announced back in 2018 that pupillage awards would be set in line with the salaries recommended each year by the Living Wage Foundation. Prior to the commitment, the minimum chambers could pay their pupils was £12,000.

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