Britain’s trial lawyers to strike in latest sign of discontent

Published Tue, Jun 21, 2022 · 06:52 PM

Britain’s criminal trial lawyers voted to strike next week in a long-running row over government funding and fees that’s collapsed in recent years. 

It’s the latest profession to protest the UK government over a range of issues from pay to working conditions.

Around 40,000 railway staff walked out Tuesday in the largest rail strike in three decades. Teachers and National Health Service staff are also considering industrial action against a backdrop of rising inflation and low pay rises.

The Criminal Bar Association, which represents thousands of barristers in England and Wales, said around 80 per cent of its members backed the walkout that’ll target 14 days of strike action between June 27 and July 22.

The lawyers are taking the action against repeated government cuts of the legal aid budget and a record backlog of court cases. Pay for criminal barristers has also fallen and many of them are being forced to leave the profession. They are demanding a 15 per cent increase in fees.

“Without immediate action to halt the exodus of criminal barristers from our ranks, the record backlog that has crippled our courts will continue to inflict misery upon victims and defendants alike, and the public will be betrayed,” the CBA said in a statement.

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If the strikes go ahead, barristers will gather at courts across England and Wales - including London’s iconic Old Bailey in London - from Monday, with further strikes planned if no deal is made. 

“It may get rather ugly,” Richard Moorhead, a professor of law and professional ethics at the University of Exeter Law School, said. “This is a very serious step being taken, with a potentially dramatic impact on the current working of the criminal justice system.” BLOOMBERG

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