w/c 10th October 2022
- Barristers vote to end strike action
- Accept 15% pay rise
- Additional funding for case preparation
- Deal applies to backlog of 60,000 cases
- Crown courts to begin hearing cases from Tuesday 11th October
Criminal barristers in England and Wales have voted to end their long-running strike action after the government offered a new pay deal. The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has confirmed that 57% out of 2,605 who voted were in favour of accepting the government’s offer of a 15% pay rise. CBA pointed out “The criminal justice system remains chronically underfunded. As a democratic organisation, we take our mandate from you. Your engagement has been overwhelming and we know that you remain committed to achieve a strong, sustainable, independent criminal bar for the future.” New Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis offered a package which went further than that offered by his predecessor, Dominic Raab.
This includes an immediate 15% rise in legal aid fees for “the vast majority of cases currently in the crown court” which would also apply to the backlog of 60,000 cases. Brandon Lewis also offered £3m of funding for case preparation and £4m for pre-recorded cross-examinations of vulnerable victims and witnesses. 80% of Criminal Bar Association Barristers previously voted in favour of a continuous strike from 5 September 2022. The strike was 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 previous call was on the UK government to increase legal aid fees by 25%. Crime does not pay. In fact several earn less as a Barrister in court than they would do working as a barista in a coffee shop.
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