England: Criminal barristers end strike after accepting 15 per cent pay rise
Criminal barristers in England and Wales are to end their indefinite strike later today after accepting the UK government’s deal on legal aid fees.
Fifty-seven per cent of barristers voted in a ballot to accept a 15 per cent pay rise, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said.
Justice secretary Brandon Lewis’ offer includes a 15 per cent increase in legal aid fees to “the vast majority of cases currently in the crown court”, as well as £3 million in funding for case preparation and £4m for prerecorded cross-examinations of vulnerable victims and witnesses.
Barristers, who had originally requested a 25 per cent rise in pay, had said the legal aid system was falling apart.
Mr Lewis said: “Since starting this job five weeks ago, my priority has been to end this strike action and reduce delays for victims, and I’m glad that barristers have agreed to return to work.
“This breakthrough is a result of coming together and restarting what I hope to be a constructive relationship as we work to drive down the backlog and ensure victims see justice done sooner.”
A statement addressed to barristers from the CBA leadership team said: “It remains the government’s responsibility to stop the criminal justice system tipping over the cliff edge.
“Barristers should not have to fight so hard again to bring this responsibility back home to government. Barristers should not again have to endure working all hours to ensure that cases are brought to courts while government pares criminal legal aid fees to the bone.
“The offer from the government is an overdue start. Its acceptance by barristers is on the basis that it is implemented. Otherwise, the CBA will ballot again to lift the suspension of action.”