Barristers refuse new crown court cases

In protest of legal aid cuts, criminal barristers are not taking on new cases at crown courts.

Their action, following a vote by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), is in support of solicitors who have experienced a 17.5% drop in pay for representing defendants.

Criminal solicitors have been taking action for a number of weeks but have now switched their focus to crown courts, where they will not accept work on new cases at the lower rates.

However, the solicitors have gone back to work in magistrates courts and police stations.

The change is aimed at bolstering the solidarity of the action while providing some income to cash-strapped firms who will now work in the lower courts.

A ballot by the CBA on 15 July saw a narrow majority of 55% in favour of the action.

Those taking part in the protest said steps had been taken to avoid having defendants arrive at court without access to counsel.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said that the action is not causing widespread disruption. A spokesperson for the MoJ said: “The changes we are making to criminal legal aid are designed to deliver value for money to taxpayers and do not impact on the availability of high quality legal advice to those who need it most.

“Although we recognise that the transition will be challenging for lawyers, these changes will put the profession on a sustainable footing for the long term. We have already pledged that an independent review looking at the impact of the new arrangements will begin in July 2016.”

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Posted in Barristers.