UPDATE: The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has confirmed that it will go on indefinite, uninterrupted strike from the 5th of September.
The CBA is asking for a 25% pay rise for legal aid work. Out of 2,273 votes cast, 1,808 members (79.5%) were in favour of escalating the strike, whereas 258 voted to continue the current action and 207 were in favour of stopping the strike.
The strike comes after the CBA has voted in an overwhelming majority that they will no longer accept return work from colleagues who have a diary clash.
The CBA vice-chair has declared that criminal barristers have experienced a decrease of over 28% in their income since 2006. The low pay is increasingly problematic for barristers that just entered the criminal practice as they can earn as little as £9,000 per year once costs such as transport are factored in. The low income also drove 22% of junior criminal barristers to leave the Criminal Bar since 2016, deepening the criminal justice crisis.
Justice Minister Sarah Dines declared that ‘’the escalation of strike action is wholly unjustified considering we are increasing criminal barristers’ fees by 15%, which will see the typical barrister earn around £7,000 more a year.” The 15% was the minimum increase recommended by the criminal aid review. Nevertheless, the CBA has stated that the 15% increase is insufficient and would not solve the backlog of 58.000 cases in the Crown Courts. The CBA said that the solution to the collapse of the criminal justice system is an injection of money into the backlog of cases. This will cost the Government £1.1m per month.
The CBA’s decision to strike will delay justice in more than 70 Crown Courts across England and Wales. The prosecution of Defendants will be delayed, so criminals might walk free. On the same note, victims will not know when they will see justice and innocent people will be left in limbo as to when they will be acquitted.