What’s behind the Barrister’s Strike?

80% of Criminal Bar Association Barristers have voted in favour of plans to cancel their bi-weekly court walkouts and run a continuous strike from 5 September.

The strike is over pay. The image of a well-proportioned Barrister quaffing Cristal Champagne whilst dining on lark’s tongue in aspic belies the truth. According to The Lawyer whilst at the top end of the profession 2 per cent of barristers take home over £1m per year nearly 12 per cent earn less than £30,000.

Barristers are self-employed. Out of the fees received they also need to cover expenses. Delays in payment – for example where legal aid fees are not paid until the end of a case – mean many are living below the poverty line and being forced to look at alternative professions. This must be addressed.

The call is on the UK government to increase legal aid fees by 25%. The Government has offered 15%.

In the meantime, HM Courts and Tribunal Services (HMCTS) figures show the backlog of cases has increased over the past three months. According to the latest data from HMCTS, 58,540 cases are waiting to be heard in the UK’s Crown Courts. That figure will obviously increase dramatically the longer this is unresolved.

Crime does not pay. In fact several earn less as a Barrister than they would do working as a barista in a coffee shop.  This must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

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