criminal bar


Criminal barristers warn of ‘national emergency’ as they head to Parliament in legal aid dispute

  • August 21, 2022
Barristers have walked out for a fourth week as industrial action at courts around the country continues (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Barristers have walked out for a fourth week as industrial action at courts around the country continues (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

The criminal justice system is in the grip of a “national emergency” with politicians accused of playing Russian Roulette with its future, barrister told Parliament as their strike enters its fourth week.

A delegation of barristers were at the Houses of Parliament on Monday to lobby MPs and Lords on the Legal Aid dispute with government, which is causing widespread disruption in the criminal courts.

Criminal Bar Association (CBA) chair Jo Sidhu QC urged the government to take decisive and urgent action to stop increasing numbers of barristers from walking away.

“This is a national emergency and it requires a national solution, not deferment and procrastination”, he told the meeting in Parliament, accusing Justice ministers of “astonishing” levels of “negligence”.

“For a government that says law and order is at the heart of everything it does, there can’t be law and order if you neglect it to such an extent that people are left laying by the wayside.

“Is this a game of brinkmanship? Are they playing Russian Roulette with the Criminal Bar and the public? Or do they want a solution that’s sustainable into the long term?”

Barristers launched industrial action in April and resolved to go on strike last month, after their demands for immediate increases in Legal Aid fees were not met.

Five days of walkouts are planned this week, meaning thousands of trials and court hearings will not be able to take place.

Several Parliamentarians attended the meeting with barristers on Monday morning, to be told the government’s current offer of a 15 increase in Legal Aid fees must be a “bare minimum” for the future and should be applied to existing as well

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Barristers in England and Wales stage first five-day strike over legal aid funding | Barristers

  • August 16, 2022

Barristers are heading to parliament as they begin their first whole week of strike action over levels of legal aid funding they say are bringing the criminal justice system to its knees.

Members of the Criminal Bar Association, which represents advocates in England and Wales, began action with a two-day strike at the end of last month and have been escalating it by an extra day every week.

If a deal is not agreed with the government criminal barristers will stage five-day walkouts every other week from now on.

Jo Sidhu QC, CBA chair, said: “We bring our action for justice to the heart of parliament as those MPs who represent us all, need to hear from those of us who persecute and defend on behalf of the voiceless – in particular the victims of crime left to suffer and language by government’s ongoing failure to stem the massive exodus of criminal barristers.

“The great leveling up agenda will be strangled at birth without government properly funding legal aid to ensure that we have enough prosecutors and defenders dealing with the unprecedented backlog of 58,000 cases. Without proper funding there can be no diversity at the criminal bar and our judiciary will end up deprived of the talent of hundreds of women and minorities from ordinary backgrounds who have dedicated their professional lives to the service of the public in our criminal courts.”

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The Ministry of Justice has agreed to a 15% uplift in fees – the minimum recommended by an independent review – to new instructions beginning from the end of September but is refusing to apply it to existing cases. Given barristers are only paid at the conclusion of trials and

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