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Criminal barristers vote for national walkout

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Row over fees set to escalate

Criminal barristers across England and Wales have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking direct action in protest over legal aid fees, it was confirmed this evening.

In a ballot organised by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), barristers were asked two questions: “Do you support the CBA proposal for action now in respect prosecution fees?” and “Do you support the CBA proposal for action now in respect of Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS)?”

Of the 2,725 response to question one, 2,586 (95%) answered yes. Just 139 (5%) answered no. Meanwhile, of the 2,735 barristers who answered question two, 2,567 (94%) answered yes. Just 168 (6%) said no.

The CBA has proposed a “whole profession walkout” on July 1. It also proposed that prosecution and defence barristers refuse returns from the same date.

In a statement this evening, the CBA said:

“Your message is very clear. Your engagement has been overwhelming. We have set out the changes that the bar needs to see. In the background, a great deal of activity has been going on. There has been very constructive engagement with the government and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on an almost daily basis for several weeks. We are hopeful that there will be a positive outcome to these discussions, which if successful would result in substantial new investment.”

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This wouldn’t be the first time the criminal bar has downed tools in protest over fees. In 2014 and 2015, solicitors and barristers staged walkouts in response to the then Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling’s plans to cut the legal aid budget by £220 million per year by 2018.

Meanwhile, in 2018, criminal barristers began refusing new publicly-funded cases in protest against government changes to the AGFS. On that occasion, government bigwigs managed to bring the quasi-strike action to an end after agreeing to cough up £15 million in additional investment.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

50 Comments

Anonymous

Here we go again

(7)(1)

Lord Ocaña

It’s all rubbish there is no law it’s all discretion the public have no idea of the legal system that uses no law but discretion. This is why we see phrases like this case has no merit or there is little prospect of success. This means that parliamentary law is not part of the courts process and its all a close shop. People should not get legal aid. Because judgement is never made on law. People shud defend themselves. What we all need to do is make the courts comply with law of Parliament.

(3)(32)

Anonymous

Arsehole.

(15)(2)

Anonymous

Chris Grayling? Is that you?

(15)(2)

Anonymous

What are you smoking

(3)(2)

Anonymous

This almost sounds a bit like the Freeman on the Land bullshit

(6)(2)

Anonymous

*judgment

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Who dared to vote no?!!!

(7)(4)

Anonymous

Horsehair wigs on the picket line!

Mulberry bags at the ready!

Ridicule of the bar in sight!

(20)(5)

Anonymous

That’s why picket lines don’t work.

The CBA should do a single thing—refuse instructions.

(10)(1)

David McLean

I can see that all of the comments above were made after the children’s bedtime. We already know that they get angsty after 9pm, so why not limit the addition of comments to the grown ups at times when the children should be in bed?

Besides, with all the positive spin from the CBA, you’d think that the courts weren’t already in meltdown. It’s time law professionals started telling it like it is instead of toeing the line of ‘maintaining public confidence’ in a now completely broken judicial system.

(15)(3)

Anonymous

I’n guessing you’re a criminal practitioner. That would explain the complete lack of logic or sense in your contribution.

(0)(10)

Cunpold of the Rolly QC

The commercial Bar was alerted to this. We felt very sorry and had a quick whip around, each throwing in a few mil. We had raised close to a cool bill and were about to prop up the criminal bar, then we thought, “but we could spend this on hookers, vintage champers and coke” so we did. We will be watching the march (or the funeral procession of the criminal bar) with the aforementioned delights.

I did check with my son, who is a senior junior at some wanky criminal set, if it was really that bad. He said between the trust funds and the various properties, he’s never checked what chambers have paid him…in 15 years. He voted no. He also voted for Brexit, will vote for Borris and used his dual nationality to vote for Trump. Chip off the old block.

(30)(3)

Anonymous

Senior junior is a nice touch.
Nothing more pathetic then a crime senior junior

(9)(3)

Anonymous

Oh, thanks.

(2)(1)

Comedy d'loser

Oh really? Ask the jury in my last 8,000 murder trials, which I did last week alone? Pathetic? I think not.

Ps. Can I borrow some money please? You can offset against my age debt? Thanks.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Vintage champers is a waste of money. Get the good basic stuff and use the cash wisely. On better coke and more expensive hookers.

(7)(3)

Anonymous

It’s the name that got me. I’d like to see that series, in the new rolls building, instead of watching some fat loser plod around the Bailey.

(1)(2)

Anonymous

As a lawyer and a top rate taxpayer I support these changes. I am tired of excessive funding being given to fund low lives when the money can be used to keep more of them in jail to protect good honest people.

(15)(16)

Anonymous

If that’s not a joke then it’s terrifying

(7)(7)

Anonymous

It is not a joke. I’d rather criminals got the cheapest representation the state can provide to ensure compliance with minimum human rights obligations. Propping up the lifestyles of Mulberry handbag toting barristers is not why I work hard and not where I want my taxes to go.

(14)(31)

Anonymous

Isn’t that a horribly ignorant world to view to have…as long as it doesn’t affect ME and MY taxes, then the poor, the uneducated and the underprivileged can rot in jail.

“Minimum human rights obligations”…listen to yourself.

How does it smell living so far up your own decrepit arsehole?

(42)(6)

Anonymous

Apologist for criminals! I don’t work hard and abide the law to fund the indulgences of state funded Rolls Royce defences of criminals. I’m sick of leftist pandering and apologism.

Andrew

But not all of them are criminals? These proposals would affect primarily the poor, barring them from rights to decent legal representation.

Anonymous

No one is being denied representation. It is just the barristers moaning about fees when they have clung to their numbers, indeed increased them by 1% a year, despite the number of hearings in criminal matters halving over the last 15 years. The poor get poorer health care, the poor get poorer housing, the poor get poorer education. Sucks to be poor. But the spend on social welfare, which is what this is, cannot sustain the sort of Rolls Royce pandering of the past.

Anonymous

Typical patronising leftist rubbish, assuming that anyone poor and uneducated will inevitably turn to a life of crime. Most poor people are hard-working and industrious, rather than criminal scum who deserve to be locked away and sterilised so their genes are removed from British society permanently.

Anonymous

The lefitsts love to hug criminal scum and tell them it was not their fault. But it is their fault. They are lazy, selfish, anti-social dregs. They should be locked away for far longer in solitary. No “University of Crime” problem if they are all cooped up in solitary is there?

All round Liberal

It’s about bloody time. I like a good strike. More of em I say. Let all crims go free. Prison is torture.

(1)(1)

Pvalt

Reading some of these comments , it dosnt surprise me why we get represented in court by silly human beings which don’t do their job properly and innocent people are probably sitting in jail and been accused of a terrible crime. I do agree that more funds for legal aid needs to go further to protect the innocent who cannot afford to fight their case not have people spending legal aid when they have no passion to represent the client properly.

(2)(2)

dennis sharpe

this time they must stay out and not give in too soon or they will be taken for granted

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Don’t worry, these type of posts by absolute c***s are nothing unusual for Legal Cheek, the online Jeremy Kyle of the legal profession…

(2)(0)

Andon

What’s the point, as we will all be replaced by AI lawyerbots soon anyway.

They say that lawyering is one of the few jobs that can’t be done by a computer, but I am not sure the algorithm for advice on prospects of acquittal given to defendants in DV cases will ever need to be any more sophisticated than a simple 50/50 “Do you think she’ll turn up to to give evidence at the trial or not?”

(5)(1)

Magistrate

“Resolving the dispute. We found the complainant to be credible. Therefore we find the defendant guilty.”

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Still, “beyond reasonable doubt” is such a ridiculous standard, especially in the context of idiotic comments about rather having 99 guilty go free than one innocent go to jail. The law is too much in favour of those that commit crimes.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

If criminal barristers don’t like the pay then many other jobs are available. Entitled much? Mulberry handbags ready?

(3)(3)

Ciaran Goggins

The QC stood in front of the mill owner “No work today, lad” he wondered how he would get through the winter…

(2)(0)

Andon

@Ciaran Goggins: Jun 10 2019 11:05am

It is not the QCs who are suffering the really serious problems. It is the junior end of the criminal Bar who are being beggered by HM Govt, which I am not sure people who don’t have first hand knowledge of it really appreciate. Criminal work is not just low paid compared to what a civil or employment barrister earns, but it is low paid compared to what a Starbucks barrister earns. Some cases end up paying out at a lower hourly rate than the minimum wage. There has been much ink spilled on this topic over the past 5 years or so and I won’t add to it here.

The problem is not just the simplistic and may I say it rather bone headed “well why don’t you diversify or get another job”, because the brain drain of talent from the criminal Bar has serious implications for the running of the criminal justice system, the Rule of Law and also the quality of future generations of the judiciary

(4)(0)

Andon

*Starbucks barista

Bloody autocorrect 🙁

(1)(0)

Ciaran Goggins

I actually have a deal of sympathy with you, there are two laws in Britain, one for the rich another for the poor, I can be flippant at times, if there is a petition to sign I’ll gladly do so – the dock is the loneliest place on earth to stand, esp if innocent.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Other jobs are available. Low end publicly funded defence work does not need top end minds, those minds would be better for the nation applied to economically useful activities.

(1)(4)

Andon

Anonymous: Jun 10 2019 8:58pm

Let me guess….you are either a purely civil practitioner who has never done crime or, more likely, a sol riding a desk somewhere and have not seen the inside of a courtroom since you last watched Law & Order.

I do both criminal and civil work btw, so I speak from experience.

Just by way of example – I went to my GP last year when I had some really odd and worrying symptoms. I was in and out in 10 minutes after they appeared to just be inputting my symptoms into a medical version of google. It looked pretty easy but I am sure that if I had been given access to the system I would have come to entirely the wrong conclusion. True, the GP was probably not as challenged by the work as the cardiac surgeon who did my dad’s heart bypass, but I was glad it was a properly qualified and trained doctor rather than some healthcare assistant or similar who the NHS was able to get a bit more cheaply.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Even if your analogy made sense, which it didn’t, there is a massive shortage of GPs and a massive oversupply of junior criminal barristers. Economics not your strength is it?

Andon

Anonymous: Jun 11 2019 5:56am

Eh? If you read the message to which I was replying, it was responding to the claim that low end criminal defence work doesn’t need top minds. there is no mention of the economics of the legal services market in the message, so, hence, I didn’t mention it.

However, since you asked, there is much more to it than too many criminal barristers and not enough work for them to do (though that is an element of it). You may have noticed that the criminal legal services market is a monopsony, where the rules of labour supply and demand do not work quite the same as they do in a normal competitive market.

Economics isn’t really your strength, is it?

Also, please explain on what basis my GP analogy doesn’t make sense, because judging by your stating of a conclusion with a total absence of explanation or reasoning, those skills aren’t really your strength either.

Ciaran Goggins

Anon is silly.

Anonymous

But, darling, when there is a 50% reduction in demand and supply has increased by 15% then service purchaser has a lot more leverage, monopsony or otherwise.

And to get back to your first point, we need good judges more than Rolls Royce minds to represent defendants.

Andon

@Anonymous: Jun 11 2019 2:17pm

Para 1: Your reasoning is extremely simplistic as there are considerations other than supply and demand in a monopsony and this one concerns the supply of a vital public service. As such, purely free market economics are merely one factor among many when it is presumed that the actors within the market are not acting solely out of pure economic self-interest and there is a moral dimension to their decision making. Oh. Wait. I see the problem now…..

Para 2: I’m not sure I follow, as either the syntax is screwed or the sentence is meant to mean “having good judges is more important than having people with Rolls Royce intellects representing defendants”. If it is the latter, then that is just a really odd thing to say and also misses the point that to get good judges you need (amongst other things) a “feeder class” of good advocates who then go on to become judges. Surprisingly enough, not many commercial silks are all that keen on binning their £1m practice in order to earn a paltry £120k or whatever it is as a circuit judge (not to mention that having “Rolls Royce” minds that made them so vastly overqualified for criminal practice, they will probably feel intellectually stifled) #sarcasm. Moreover, when such luminaries do go on the bench, many don’t have the feel for the work that a former criminal QC would have. So where will the next generation of criminal judges come from then?

Disillusioned

The strike will achieve nothing, why? 1 day????? Announced weeks in advance, already plans being made to counter the “disruption”. The only way fellow Counsel to make the powers sit up and get real is to strike indefinitely. Strike until matters are agreed to your satisfaction not the CBA’s, not the Govt you must strike to make an impact, not for one day. Yes i agree and accept that we are self employed and cannot afford to but can you afford not to finally make a stand once and for all. Remember the last time, debacle with the usual promises. Time people speaking up for Counsel had the courage of their convictions and did just that. I can see nothing happening following this one day off. Really does any one believe things will change.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What do we want? To plead poverty by shaking our Mulberry handbag at photographers while wearing wigs and gowns out of court so we look like tossers. When do we want to do that? Preferably after the ski season is over, and not during the first week of the new season stock coming into Mulberry.

(1)(1)

Luca Brazzi

Idiotic comments like this – render you one of the “tossers”

(0)(0)

Luca Brazzi

So many pointless and sarcastic posts on this thread; probably from those who never got pupillage and are bitter.

I have had a number of careers – and successful ones too – made a lot of money and am now at the criminal bar. I am different in that I dont need money to pay my mortgage or to put aside for a pension. However, I can see what a bloody mess the Tories have made of the system of Justice. Trouble is: there are few voices standing up for the rule of law, and like some pea brains on this thread – there is a feeling that “criminals” dont deserve money spent on them.

Chris Grayling is now a proven master at screwing things up and his hoary hand still lurks under the vast under investment in our system of criminal justice.

Yes there might be too many barristers pursuing a shrinking pool of work – but the Police are not charging crimes – and one day the shit is going to hit the fan and the work load will re-emerge. Who will be taking this on?

The Bar is correct to strike – not just for their own financial futures but for the rule of law and justice.

(2)(0)

Comments are closed.

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