Barristers will announce whether they will end strike action and accept 15% pay rise deal TODAY
- Criminal Bar Association in 25 weeks of strikes but there may be an end in sight
- The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has made a proposal on pay to end court walk outs
- It means ‘further investment of £54 million in the criminal bar and solicitors’
- Figures reveal a third of trials due to start in April, May, June were ‘ineffective’
Strike action by barristers could end this morning after votes were cast on whether to end the action.
The ballot from the Criminal Bar Association opened on Tuesday evening and closed at midnight yesterday.
Results from the votes will be announced at 9am this morning and could bring to an end weeks of disruption.
The body agreed to ballot members again after talks with Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis in which he decided to propose further reforms to Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
Criminal barristers from the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), demonstrates outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, as part of their ongoing pay row with the Government on
Barristers (pictured striking on September 6) will be asked to vote on whether to end strike action in the wake of fresh Government proposals in the row over pay, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
The offer represents ‘further investment of £54 million in the criminal bar and solicitors’, according to the department.
Criminal barristers in England and Wales are taking part in a continuous walkout after their row with the Government over fees and conditions intensified.
Prior to that, they were striking on alternate weeks and refused to carry out certain types of work.
There had been anger that a planned 15% fee rise barristers were due to receive from the end of September – meaning they will earn £7,000 more per year – would only apply to new cases and not those already sitting in a backlog waiting to be dealt with by the courts.
Mr Lewis becomes the ninth appointee to the office of the Lord Chancellor – which can be traced back to before the Norman Conquest – since the Conservatives came to power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats following the 2010 election
Outstanding trials are up from 27% in the previous quarter and at their highest level seen
Inside the barrister strike: Lawyers demand more than their 15% fee rise
Barristers in England and Wales are taking part in a continuous walkout after the dispute over conditions and Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work intensified.
Prior to that, they had striking on alternate weeks and have refused to carry out certain types of work.
Criminal barristers are due to receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September, meaning they will earn an extra £7,000 per year.
But there has been anger the proposed pay rise will not be made effective immediately and will apply only to new cases, not those already sitting in the backlog waiting to be dealt with by courts.
Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis has proposed further reforms to Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work and an investment of £54 million in the criminal bar and solicitors’, the MoJ said.
But now the MoJ has said the fee increase will apply to the ‘vast majority of cases currently in the crown court’ as well as provide a pay rise for solicitors, with further measures due to be announced in the coming weeks.
This is despite the department previously saying it had ‘repeatedly explained’ to the CBA that backdating pay would require a ‘fundamental change’ in how fees are paid, adding: ‘That reform would cost a disproportionate amount of taxpayers’ money and would take longer to implement, meaning barristers would have to wait longer for payment.’
It is understood the move requires changes to the digital system used by the Legal Aid Agency to make payments and, while officials are confident there is a solution available, they fear it may be difficult and expensive.
The pay offer came after High Court judges ruled that delays to criminal trials affected by the ongoing strike may not be a good enough reason to keep defendants in custody on remand if the dispute continues beyond the end of November.
The Ministry of Justice will make £3million of funding available for case preparation like written work and special preparation.
A further £4 million will be allocated to defence barristers involved in pre-recorded cross-examinations, which are used to reduce the trauma of a trial for vulnerable victims and witnesses.
The Ministry of Justice is also proposing a £5 million uplift per year for fees in the youth court, from the 2024/25 financial year, expected to benefit both solicitors and some junior barristers.