Criminal lawyers are preparing for an indefinite strike for legal aid

Criminal lawyers are preparing for an indefinite strike for legal aid

Criminal lawyers are preparing for an indefinite strike for legal aid

Criminal lawyers in England and Wales will begin their first indefinite strike on Monday after the government failed to meet their request to increase legal aid costs after years of cuts.

Prior to this year, criminal lawyers had only dropped out for a day and a half in 2014 before a resolution was reached in a legal aid dispute.

But union action that began in April has gradually escalated as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) refused to accept an immediate 25% increase in legal aid costs, offering only 15%.

Related: Because criminal lawyers are on strike to finance legal aid

The Criminal Bar Association states that its members’ real earnings have fallen by 28% since 2006 and that the 15% increase will not be felt for years because it only applies to new cases since late September. There remains a backlog of approximately 60,000 cases to be completed.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, president of the CBA, said: “Government policies on harshness of crime and victim support are meaningless without the necessary adequate investment in criminal lawyers who provide justice.

“As the criminal lawyers begin their historic, last resort, indefinite action, it is not too late for the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor to change his legacy.

“Criminal lawyers have stopped soldiering through oppressed criminal courts. They stopped watching vulnerable people bounce in trials in 2024 with their hands folded in prayer that there will be someone to prosecute and defend.

“This is not a ‘world-class justice system’ as defined by the vision of the Ministry of Justice. It is not even a functioning judicial system ”.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab accused the striking lawyers of disappointing victims and increasing the backlog of cases.

But the CBA said that in the three months to March 31, before the criminal lawyers began their industrial action, 6,734 trials were delayed, including 1,907 trials deemed ineffective – those that don’t go through at the last minute – the most. high in eight years of official records.

This included more than 200 cases where there was no prosecutor or defense attorney available the day a trial was due, according to the CBA’s analysis.

The 4,827 trials cleared – early – by court lists were the most in a quarter in seven years, and 1,568 more trials were delayed than those concluded in the period, ABC said.

The CBA says it is surprising to prevent the complete collapse of the criminal justice system and expressed frustration at Raab’s refusal to comply with his demands.

Striking lawyers are planning to meet on the steps of crown courts in every region of England and Wales on Tuesday.

When the indefinite strike was announced last month, Justice Minister Sarah Dines said it was “an irresponsible decision that will only see more victims facing further delays and distress.”

The Ministry of Justice says the 15% fee increase will add around £ 7,000 to the annual earnings of a typical lawyer.

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