Vos steps in to help clerks in dispute

Clerks and administrative staff have received Bar Council support in relation to unfair treatment they received at the hands of some chambers.

One senior clerk told The Lawyer that last year more than a dozen clerks and support staff at several chambers had been dismissed in circumstances they felt were unfair and inappropriate.

“The situation was such that clerks and staff were finding themselves dropped from employment with no real course of redress due to the structure of some chambers or without understanding of why they’d been let go,” said the source. “It made many in clerking feel unsafe in their jobs.”

The strength of feeling saw several of the aggrieved parties approach Declan Redmond, chair of the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC), who brought the issue to the Bar Council’s attention.

“We met with Geoffrey Vos [QC] who was the council chair at the time and he took on board our concerns,” said Redmond. “The result has been for the council to remind barristers and chambers of their responsibility to clerks and administrative staff.”

Vos, before handing over the chairmanship to Timothy Dutton QC this month, said in a statement: “I am not taking sides on individual disputes, but I would like to remind all barristers that bad employment practices risk bringing the profession into disrepute.

“I hope all heads of chambers will make sure they adopt and adhere to high standards of personnel management, in accordance with the Equality Code and the Bar Council’s Practice Management Manual.”