Clerk sacked after row over pay

Andrew Hutchins, senior clerk at Dick Pears' 34-tenant set in Francis Taylor Building, has been sacked because his chambers did not want to continue with old style clerking.

Head of chambers Dick Pears said Hutchins' role as a traditional clerk, receiving a percentage of fees brought in, did not merit his level of remuneration believed to be around £80,000.

He said that he was prepared to pay well for a replacement who was IT literate and could help with the set's strategic development. Approaches have already been made to at least one candidate, but if such a person could not be found, the set could continue with another junior clerk.

“Traditionally our tenants have maintained excellent direct contacts with solicitors,” he said.

Hutchins moved to Francis Taylor Building from Leicester 18 months ago.

Rows about pay began immediately over what Pears calls “a slight misunderstanding”. Hutchins thought he would receive a salary plus 2 per cent of gross fees, whereas chambers paid him 2 per cent of net fees and eventually cut his percentage altogether and put him on a fixed salary.

When Hutchins was called to see Pears late last month, he assumed he was about to get a long-promised bonus.

Instead Pears told him he was sacked. The unanimous decision had been taken at a marathon six-hour chambers meeting.

Hutchins said he is considering leaving clerking after 23 years following his “nightmare” 18 months at the set.

His departure is the latest example of sets ousting expensive old-style clerks, who are often paid purely on a percentage basis. Earlier this year 3-4 Gray's Inn Square parted acrimoniously with £275,000 senior clerk Leslie Page and is bringing in Tony Wells for what is believed to be less than half the money.