Barristers strike disrupts courts across country as staff take action over legal aid funding

Barristers are set to walk out of courts across the country today for several days in a dispute over legal aid funding.

They will refuse to accept new cases and take on “return work”- picking up court hearings for colleagues whose cases are overrunning.

Picket lines are expected at the The Old Bailey, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester courts.

The strike action is intended to last for four weeks, beginning with walkouts on Monday June 27 and Tuesday June 28, increasing by one day each week until a five-day strike from Monday July 18 to Friday July 22.

It means that cases at which barristers are required are likely to have to be postponed, including crown court trials.

Barristers have voted to go on strike in a row over legal aid funding

Around 81.5 per cent of the more than 2,000 members to vote in the ballot supported the strike.

Those who voted for the walkout also supported not taking on new cases. In total, 43.5 per cent of all those balloted chose this combination.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab said the strike “will only delay justice for victims”.

He said: “It’s regrettable that the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) is striking, given only 43.5% of their members voted for this particular, most disruptive, option.

“I encourage them to agree the proposed 15% pay rise which would see a typical barrister earn around £7,000 more a year.”

However, a CBA spokesperson said the 15 per cent pay rise would not take effect immediately since it would not apply to backlogged cases.

They said: “The existing rates will remain on all of the cases stuck on this record backlog until they conclude which may be many years away.”

There was a backlog of 58,271 as of the end of April, according to HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the barrister strikes are “regrettable”

Jo Sidhu QC, chair of the CBA said the action was not merely about pay but “redressing the shortfall in the supply of criminal barristers to help deal with the crisis in our courts”.

“We have already suffered an average decrease in our real earnings of 28 per cent since 2006 and juniors in their first three years of practice earn a median income of only £12,200, which is below minimum wage,” he said.

Mr Sidhu said almost 40% of junior criminal barristers left the profession within a year.

“In reality, our judges have been forced to adjourn 567 trials last year at the last minute because there simply wasn’t a prosecuting or defence barrister available,” he added.

“These shortages in manpower are causing increasing misery to victims and those accused who are desperately waiting, sometimes for years, to get justice and to see their cases finally resolved in court.”

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.