Cases Affected Due to Barrister Strike
In recent news, over 70 criminal sets of barristers chambers across the jurisdiction of England and Wales have individually voted to not accept any new work for representation orders granted on or thereafter 01 April 2018. Barristers are not on strike, instead they are simply not accepting new legal aid cases following a cut to the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme – the way in which advocates are remunerated for the preparation and advocacy in the Crown Court.
The reasoning for not accepting any new work is due to the never ending failure of our crumbling criminal justice system, for example legal aid cuts and serious under-funding of police, prosecution and defence. More and more people now risk being wrongfully convicted of criminal offences as a result of this. There has also been a mass increase in disclosure failings over the previous years – This is where the police or other authorities fail to provide the correct evidence in which someone’s innocence could be proved. A known example of this would be Liam Allen’s case, revolving around disclosure failures and a research criminal defence barrister reading over 5,000 pages of disclosure evidence overnight in order for the case to be dropped. This is a prime example of the hard work that goes into the work of this profession, yet some of these barristers find themselves mostly working for free, and this is essentially why the barristers are now refusing to take on any more work.
Due to the poor working conditions and lack of credit for their hard work, recruitment tends to be difficult for solicitors and barristers, as people are constantly looking at leaving the profession or looking elsewhere. This is exactly why the barristers have decided to go on strike. There will eventually be not enough barristers or solicitors left to ensure a fully functioning and successful justice system. The Criminal Bar Association announced that they will not be taking on any more cases. Any crown court cases where the legal aid order is dated after or on 1st April 2018 will be affected by the strike. Any other cases will continue as normal. One case has already been in the news due to the barristers’ not working causing delays in the system.
A message from one of our lawyers about the Barrister Strike and the route of the problem…
One of our recent recruits, Stephen Davies commented: “Aspiring criminal lawyers today, whether it be criminal defence solicitors or criminal barristers, acquire debt of £50,000 + in order to study towards undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses. There is ample amount of research, facts, statistics, blogs, journals, command papers and commentary surrounding the devastating impacts of legal aid cuts. In my view, one of the most significant problems, which is only going to get worse as time goes by, is succession and retention. The average age of a criminal solicitor in England and Wales is 50 years old. More must be done to ensure the succession and retention of our profession. Otherwise, it is the public that will suffer the most. The Government must inject more money into the legal aid system and introduce an Independent Pay Review Board regarding Advocates and Litigators Fee Schemes. The increase in funding will eventually make its way down to young criminal legal aid lawyers. Currently, young legal aid lawyers are surviving, not living.”
There is a succession and retention crisis affecting criminal defence solicitors and barristers caused by inadequate remuneration. The Law Society today released data showing the average age demographic for criminal defence solicitors in England and Wales. This suggests junior lawyers are no longer attracted to working in criminal law which will ultimate lead to the extinction of criminal lawyers in 5 years’ time, unless the Government inject funds into the legal aid system and the criminal justice system more broadly.
“This is not about money for lawyers. It is the liberties of England that are at risk” – Sir Henry Brooke
If you are facing a criminal prosecution and are uncertain as to how your case might be affected by this industrial action, we will be happy to explain in more detail. We are always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0845 200 3367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.