Every burning question you’ve ever had about Judge Robert Rinder, finally answered

Maggie Baska
·3-min read

Judge Robert Rinder has been an ITV fan-favourite since his daytime courtroom show started in 2014.

The legal programme has run for eight seasons with Judge Rinder presiding over dramatic real-life court cases in the studio – giving the UK a much needed answer to Judge Judy. Fans have witnessed the gamut of cases from dodgy loans to bad business deals.

But who is the man behind the sharp tongue, witty one-liners and gavel?

Is Judge Rinder a real judge?

Judge Rinder is not a real judge, but he does have a background in law. Rinder originally had ambitions to be an actor, taking part in the National Youth Theatre. But he eventually swapped the stage life for studying politics, art and modern history at the University of Manchester.

He was called to the bar in 2001 and went on to specialise in cases involving money laundering and other types of financial crime. As a barrister, Rinder also worked on many high-profile criminal cases such as the drive-by shooting of Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis in 2003. He also was sent to the Turks and Caicos Islands as a “poacher turned gamekeeper”, where he was involved in prosecuting corrupt government officials.

Rinder eventually began working on scripts, hoping to relaunch the 70s and 80s ITV series Crown Court, which didn’t work out in the end. But it did lead to a meeting between Rinder and ITV Studios, who decided to make their own version of popular US show Judge Judy but with Rinder at the helm.

There’s another hint throughout the series that Rinder isn’t a real judge – his outfit. Throughout the TV show, Rinder wears barrister’s clothing including a gown, but he does not wear a wig.

judge robert rinder itv seo
(YouTube/Judge Rinder)

Is Judge Rinder gay? Who is Judge Rinder’s partner?

Rinder is gay, and he married his long-term partner and fellow barrister Seth Cummings in a civil ceremony in 2013. However, the marriage only lasted four years, and Rinder split with Cummings early in 2018.

Ringer and his partner had been together for 11 years, and the TV judge was reported to be “very upset” after the breakdown in the relationship.

Are cases on Judge Rinder legally binding?

Despite not being a real judge, the review of cases on Judge Rinder is very much legally binding. Sums up to £5,000 awarded by Judge Rinder are lawfully enforced.

But the good news for those participating in the show is that these bills are paid by the show itself, rather than the defendant.

Where else has Judge Rinder appeared?

Rinder has appeared elsewhere on TV outside his courtroom show. He used his criminal law expertise to investigate true crime in ITV’s Judge Rinder’s Crime Stories. An episode on the 1988 murder of Helen McCourt, whose body was never found, won the current affairs programme prise at the 2018 RTS North West Awards.

He also participated in BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2016, coming in fifth with his partner Oksana Platero. The gay barrister and TV personality said he offered a same-sex dance on Strictly Come Dancing’s 2020 Christmas special, however the coronavirus forced the episode to be scrapped in favour of a clip show.

Rinder recently fronted the BBC documentary My Family, The Holocaust and Me, where he reflected on the horrors of the Holocaust. The barrister, himself the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, helped Jewish families uncover the truth of what happened to their relatives in the two-part series.

How does Judge Rinder know Benedict Cumberbatch?

Robert Rinder and Sherlock and Marvel superstar Benedict Cumberbatch are good friends. The pair met when they were both studying at Manchester university, and they’ve remained so close throughout the years that they even played a massive role in each other’s weddings.

Cumberbatch officiated when Rinder married Cummings in 2013, and Rinder was best man at the actor’s wedding to Sophie Hunter in 2015.