Barrister strike action threatened
Louise Heath
Criminal defence barristers are planning to strike over pay on a national day of action set for 1 July.
In a message to the 4,000 members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) published on 24 May, the association’s chair, Chris Henley QC, and vice-chair, Caroline Goodwin QC, said that they ‘have had enough of working for derisory fees or for nothing at all’. They described their members as ‘angry and demoralised’ as they ‘are paid less than the minimum wage in case after case, whether prosecuting or defending’.
The CBA is calling for increases in both Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and legal aid fees for advocates pending reviews of both schemes. They are balloting their members on a national walkout of both prosecution and defence barristers on 1 July and on introducing a blanket ban on taking both defence and prosecution cases at short notice (known as returns).
Last year, the government caved in to a threat of a no-returns boycott over legal aid fees and found an extra £15m for the advocates’ graduated fee scheme. The CBA said that, ‘Even at this point we do not want action to be necessary and we invite both the CPS and the MoJ to engage with us to avoid it.’
The ballot of the CBA membership closes at 5 pm on Tuesday 4 June.

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