Nearly 300 barristers petition justice minister over ‘unsustainable’ District Court fees
Nearly 300 barristers have signed a letter to the justice minister, Helen McEntee, calling for an urgent review of “unsustainable” and “uneconomic” fees for criminal work in the District Court.
The petition seeks the “immediate full and long overdue unwinding of cuts to rates of pay for criminal legal aid services”, as well as direct payments to barristers rather than payments being made through solicitors.
“The rule of law and the due administration of justice benefit from people of all ages and with different experiences and backgrounds becoming barristers and working in criminal law,” the letter states.
“Now it is evident that only those with independent resources can survive in the profession. This is enormously damaging to the profession and to society.
“The fact that only well-resourced barristers can survive must have a corrosive effect on society in any democracy. The State by its inaction condones this undesirable development.”
The letter, signed by 88 senior counsel and 182 junior counsel, was hand-delivered to the Department of Justice on Friday by Darren Lalor BL.
Mr Lalor was one of the organisers of the legal aid protests which took place outside the Criminal Courts of Justice in March and again in April.
“I have asked the minister for justice to give its contents her urgent attention,” Mr Lalor said. “The new legal term commences 15 June 2022.”