Criminal barristers start indefinite strike after rejecting 15 per cent pay boost – as they demand 25 per cent increase in legal aid and fees to stop young lawyers fleeing profession

  • Criminal barristers are walking out indefinitely in a row over legal aid fees
  • The Government has given a 15% rise – but the CBA is demanding a 25% hike
  • Members of the Criminal Bar Association have been walking out on alternate weeks since June and voted in favour of an indefinite strike last week
  • Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, formerly Britain’s top barrister, has slammed Justice Secretary Dominic Raab for being on holiday when the ballot was called
  • The 15 per cent pay rise means that the typical income of criminal barristers is set to rise £7,000-per-year to £86,800

Criminal barristers in England and Wales have officially launched a continuous strike from today after their row with the Government continued.

Members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) have been walking out on alternate weeks and voted in favour of an indefinite, uninterrupted strike last week.

The CBA is demanding a 25 per cent pay rise in legal aid fees to curb an exodus of young barristers – but the Government has refused to negotiate on its 15 per cent offer.

The 15 per cent pay rise means that the typical income of criminal barristers is set to rise £7,000-per-year to £86,800. 

Members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) have been walking out on alternate weeks and voted in favour of an indefinite, uninterrupted strike last week (Pictured: Barristers demonstrating in Parliament Square, London during a strike on July 11)

The CBA is demanding a 25 per cent pay rise in legal aid fees to curb an exodus of young barristers (Pictured: Barristers demonstrating outside the Old Bailey during a strike on June 27)

The radical all-out strike has been effectively on since Tuesday last week as previously-arranged walkouts continued in the meantime.

The CBA has set up a hardship fund for strikers for their lost income – funded from Union coffers, according to the BBC.

Labour leader and former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer has a previously accused the Government of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to resolve disputes as it emerged Justice Secretary Dominic Raab was on holiday as the ballot result was announced. 

CBA have been walking out intermittently since June – which escalated to week-long strikes in August.

According to the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid carried out by Sir Christopher Bellamy, the median fee income, pre-expenses, for self-declared full practice criminal barristers in 2020 was £79,800.

Average junior full practice criminal barristers profits are £58,300 – and in their first three years of practice, the Criminal Bar Association says full time criminal barristers earned an average income of £12,200. But the average earnings for the sector as a whole post-expenses roughly ranges from £55,900 to £63,900.

Jo Sidhu, Chair of the Criminal Bar Association, speaks outside the Old Bailey during an earlier barristers strike on June 27 

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab (pictured) was on holiday as the ballot result was announced


Labour leader and former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer has a previously accused the Government of doing ‘absolutely nothing’ to resolve disputes

Rallies will be held in support of the strikes on Tuesday outside the UK Supreme Court in London and at courts in  Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds.

Ministry of Justice figures show more than 6,000 court hearings have been disrupted by the dispute over conditions and Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work. 

Barristers are due to receive a 15 per cent fee rise from the end of September, earning £7,000 more a year. 

But there is anger the rise will not be immediate and doesn’t apply to backlog cases.

Criminal barristers in England and Wales will in effect go on a continuous strike from today after their row with the Government over pay intensified

Mr Raab has accused barristers of ‘holding justice to ransom’, saying: ‘My message to the CBA is simple. We are increasing your pay. 

‘Now your actions are only harming victims, increasing the court backlog.’

But Claire Waxman, Victims’ Commissioner for London, said: ‘The only ones responsible for holding “justice to ransom” are those who have failed to fund a functioning justice system.’

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