The Criminal Bar Association, which represents approximately 2, 400 barristers in England and Wales has confirmed on Monday that it will no longer accept return work. The decision was supported by an overwhelming majority of 90 %.
What does this mean?
This means that criminal barristers will no longer accept last-minute work from colleagues who cannot appear in court. An example of when such a circumstance would arise include where the case overrun. Also, this can happen where the case was rescheduled last minute, thereby creating a clash in the diary.
What led to this?
The government commissioned a criminal aid review which stipulated that a minimum of £135m is necessary to save a failing criminal justice system. Interestingly the Government agreed to a 15% increase in the criminal legal aid advocacy fees. However, the implementation of this rise is very slow. Therefore, this industrial action comes as a response to the Ministry of Justice’s answer to the government-commissioned criminal aid review.
Needless to say, the industrial action is likely to further burden the criminal justice system which currently faces a backlog of 60,000 cases.
You can read up on legal aid here.