Minimum wage applies to pupillages

The Bar is facing a major shake-up in its provision of training following a landmark judgment in the High Court, ruling that the minimum wage applies to pupillage.

Mr Justice Sullivan found that pupillage is a contract of apprenticeship and therefore the Minimum Wage Act 1998 does apply to it.

However, he rejected the claim that it was a contract for personal services.

The judgment has far-reaching implications for the profession, with 200 pupillages in 1997-1998 out of a total of 700 being unfunded.

The Lawyer (2 August) reported that Rebecca Edmonds had initiated the action with the full support of her chambers, 23 Essex Street, and the Bar Council.

At the time, head of chambers Michael Lawson QC said: “There are severe implications whichever way. This is such an important issue that I'm quite prepared to be sued over it.”

Dan Brennan QC, chairman of the Bar Council says: “The Bar Council will now carefully consider the implications of Mr Justice Sullivan's detailed judgment when the full transcript is available.

“I would like to express gratitude to Rebecca Edmonds who volunteered to act as the claimant in this case, and to Michael Lawson QC who agreed to defend the action.”