Legal aid reform: Criminal barristers vote overwhelmingly in favour of direct action

No returns from 11 April ❌

Criminal barristers throughout England and Wales have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking action in protest over felony authorized aid charges.

The Criminal Bar Affiliation (CBA) confirmed on Sunday night that 94.34% of the 1,908 members who voted had agreed to a ‘no returns’ coverage from 11 April. The transfer means barristers won’t settle for instances which are returned by colleagues who’ve a diary conflict.

The choice follows a survey of almost 2,000 CBA members in January that discovered 96.5% had been in favour of taking action if the federal government didn’t “commit to a substantial increase in criminal legal aid”.

The action centres round an unbiased overview of felony authorized aid which discovered that an extra £135 million a 12 months was required to assist nurse the crumbling system again to well being after “years of neglect”. The overview’s chair, Sir Christopher Bellamy QC, confused there was “no scope for further delay”.

The federal government has promised to reply to the overview by the top of March, however barristers worry no action shall be taken till no less than the summer season and probably past.

The Justice Secretary Dominic Raab beforehand advised Radio 4’s At present programme that, “the one thing that would hold back recovery in the courts system is if the Criminal Bar Association and criminal lawyers go on strike”.

In an announcement the CBA stated: “94.34% of the 1,908 members who cast their votes have made it absolutely clear that they are not willing to be led by a government timetable that brings no prospect of a settlement until the end of September. They have already waited too long. Through our labour and our goodwill, we have sustained a chronically underfunded criminal justice system on behalf of the public while suffering substantial reductions in our real incomes and exhausted by the hugely increased demands placed upon us, often for little or no reward.”

It continued:

“We have already lost too many of our colleagues who can no longer afford to maintain their commitment to criminal work and who have left our ranks out of desperation and despair. Every day we are losing more. We have shrunk to a mere 2,400 full time criminal barristers. The future viability and diversity of the criminal bar is already imperilled. It is a recognition of the scale of this crisis that has driven so many of you to vote in favour of action.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson stated: “We are disappointed in a vote for this course of action just days before we announce our plans to create a stable and sustainable legal aid sector for the future. We encourage CBA members to read our proposals in full and respond to the consultation, rather than being drawn into action that will harm victims of crime.”

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