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Criminal courts face further disruption as barristers strike for third week

Criminal defence barristers gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London to support the ongoing Criminal Bar Association action over Government set fees for legal aid advocacy work (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Criminal defence barristers gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London to support the ongoing Criminal Bar Association action over Government set fees for legal aid advocacy work (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Barristers have walked out for a third week as strikes at courts around the country continue.

Criminal cases face further disruption as the four-day walkout of defence barristers went ahead on Monday.

Lawyers gathered at the Supreme Court in London as well as Birmingham, Preston and Plymouth Crown Courts to support the ongoing Criminal Bar Association (CBA) action in a dispute over conditions and Government set fees for legal aid advocacy work.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said criminal barristers will receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September, meaning they will earn £7,000 more per year.

But there has been anger that the proposed pay rise will not be made effective immediately and will only apply to new cases, not those already sitting in the backlog waiting to be dealt with by courts.

Last week the CBA accused the Government of “refusing” to negotiate, warning that victims of crime and defendants seeking to prove their innocence will not see their day in court if ministers do not take steps to “reinject” funds into a “barely functioning” justice system.

Justice ministers have urged the body to accept the “very generous” pay offer to “stop victims having to wait longer for justice”.

Strikes are due to take place on five days next week. Action will be suspended for a week from July 25 before recommencing between August 1 and August 5.

The CBA then plans to strike on alternate weeks, with no end date, with the action to remain under review and subject to the Government’s response.