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Stowe Family Law asks: should High Court judges get a pay rise?

High Court judges will receive a three per cent pay rise next year, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced.

The increase will take their annual salary to £183,328. This is higher than the current rate of inflation, which is at 0.1 per cent, as well as the Treasury’s policy of a one per cent wage increase for public sector workers each year.

The MoJ claims the move is necessary because there is a serious problem in recruiting and retaining top judges. The government is deeply concerned by the number of High Court judges retiring early due to “an unsatisfactory pay and pension package”, The Times reports. Similarly, lawyers are put off becoming judges as they fear they will not earn as much as they do currently. In evidence submitted to the Senior Salaries Review Body, which is oversees pay rise recommendations for judges, the MoJ claimed that top lawyers can make four times as much as a High Court judge.

Last year a High Court position in the Family Division went unfilled because there were no suitable candidates, the MoJ has disclosed. If this trend continues, the government is worried it will have a “significant impact on the administration of justice”.

High Court judges are usually selected from the top barristers in their respective areas of law. I suspect that no one would deny that life as a barrister is very stressful, especially for those at the height of the profession. After many long, relentless hours and a lot of hard work on a particular case, they have to move immediately on to the next one which could be equally taxing. However, the financial rewards of such work can be enormous. But that’s the same for anyone at the top of their game.

Becoming a High Court judge immediately confers a title and status. But that job too is undeniably taxing. There’s a lot of work to do. Perhaps far more so now than ever before, with litigants who may not always be helpfully represented by Counsel and solicitors, and at whose feet a testy judge can easily lay blame. And judgements now have to be even more carefully handed down and published.

It all reminds me of the joke about the fabulous Plotkin diamond enviously admired by all who saw it. But there’s only one problem Mrs Plotkin would say, “Mr Plotkin comes with it”.

There I rest my case.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Dr John Wood says:

    So judges are a different case to our junior hospital doctors and nurses!

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