Part-time judges are the latest professional group to become exercised by the prospect of out-of-hours courts, after they were asked to volunteer for extra shifts during the pilot phase.

The Association of Fee-Paid Judges (AFPJ) is surveying its 270 members on the plans. Around three-quarters are understood to be solicitors. 

The Gazette understands around 120 responses have been received so far, almost all of which have been negative.

A source said many members would not want to sit early or late, but might be willing to do so if there is an additional allocation of sitting days and overtime is paid to cover expenses.

They added: ‘In any other walk of life, unsocial hours working attracts a premium, not to mention a shift allowance if your hours of work regularly change. In addition to childcare costs, there is the effect on family life and your work-life balance. I do think there is no reason why lawyers should be treated differently from other public servants.’

The AFPJ survey is open until 16 August.

The flexible courts pilot has continued to attract criticism since the government confirmed it would be trialling the scheme. Yesterday, the Gazette reported that both the chair of the Bar Council and the president of the Law Society had made public criticisms of the proposals.