Criminal barristers to strike as row over legal aid escalates
Walkouts from next Monday
Barristers across England and Wales will down tools next week as the row between the criminal bar and the government over legal aid fees steps up a gear.
The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) confirmed this morning that 81.5% of the 2,055 members who voted had agreed to stage a series of escalating walkouts from next Monday. Barristers are also being encouraged to stage protests outside various court buildings across the country.
The news comes some two months after the criminal bar first implemented a ‘no returns’ policy — barristers agree not to accept cases that are returned by colleagues who have a diary clash — over their longstanding concerns with legal aid funding.
Although the government said it had accepted an independent review’s recommendation to thrown an extra £135 million a year into the criminal legal aid sector, the CBA argues the increase in fees under the deal will “not be sufficient to retain enough criminal barristers to keep the wheels of justice turning”.
The industrial action will initially see criminal barristers down tools for two days from next Monday (27- 28 June), with further strikes planned for the following weeks. If no deal is reached, the CBA says the strike action will escalate with one additional day each week until week four, at which point the strike action would take place on alternating weeks.
In a statement, CBA chair Jo Sidhu QC and vice-president Kirsty Brimelow QC said:
“This extraordinary commitment to the democratic process reflects a recognition amongst criminal barristers at all levels of call and across all Circuits that what is at stake is the survival of a profession of specialist criminal advocates and of the criminal justice system which depends so critically upon their labour.”
The continued: “Without immediate action to halt the exodus of criminal barristers from our ranks, the record backlog that has crippled our courts will continue to inflict misery upon victims and defendants alike, and the public will be betrayed.”
For all the latest commercial awareness info, news and careers advice:Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter
Ordinary Hard Working Taxpayer
Time to ditch using barristers, especially senior ones, and use a public defender systems to provide the minimum representation needed to comply with human rights obligations.
The public defender system would be just as expensive. They would be employees with holiday, sickness pay, maternity leave etc.. The real longterm problem is that the recruitment of young legal students into criminal law is very very low. The existing practitioners are getting older and are retiring.
Nah, bro, lots of posh kids want to say they are a barrister. Them applications they keep a-rolln’ in. Massive oversupply in a market where demand is rapidly shrinking.
Hardly oversupply – 25% have left the profession in the last 5 years.
There are now not enough barristers to cover the work.
The problem is that people want to do the job but cannot cope with it at the rates payable so leave very quickly.
Also an average hardworking taxpayer
As a junior criminal barrister, I too am an ordinary hardworking taxpayer. Unfortunately, much of my work is entirely unpaid and so it averages out at less than minimum wage. I would pay more in tax if I earned a decent living wage.
Or are you proposing that the public defender should work on a voluntary basis?
Well said, You are an ordinary hard working person. Good luck to you all coming together to fight an injustice i hope you Win
Do tell us one more time why an inflation-busting 15 per cent increase is not enough for criminal barristers…
Sword of truth
You okay hun?