Barristers refuse take on new legal aid cases because of fee cuts
Barristers at the Criminal Bar have declared that they will not take on any new cases under revised legal aid rules.
Criminal Bar Association chairman Gavan Duffy QC said its members were committed to providing the highest standard of representation to members of society who face the most serious and complex criminal cases in the Crown Court, but that the cuts in fees, anywhere between 45-65%, "will inevitably dilute the quality of representation available to some of the most vulnerable members of society and to the victims of crime".
The senior barrister said the CBA, which is comprised of barristers in independent practice who operate in competition with each other, took the decision "after careful deliberation and it is with deep regret that the association has resolved that these standards cannot be achieved under these amended rules".
In the past two weeks, solicitors' firms across the province, many of them regarded as the largest and most prominent, have taken a similar stance.
A formal statement has not yet been issued by their representative body, The Law Society NI.
The quasi-strike comes as Justice Minister David Ford seeks to impose the third set of cuts to lawyers' fees in the past 10 years.