Barristers threaten walkouts in coming weeks over lack of pay
Criminal barristers have threatened to take action over a pay row with the Crown Prosecution Service.
Criminal barristers have threatened to take action in the coming weeks over a pay row with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) by walking out of trials or refusing to take on new work.
A survey by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) found the vast majority (94.83%) would be prepared take action to achieve changes to the rate of pay.
According to the CBA, rates have not increased in 20 years and barristers can be paid as little as £46.50 for a day’s work preparing a complex court case – effectively less than the minimum wage.
The current relationship with the CPS is broken Chris Henley, Criminal Bar Association chairman
CBA chairman Chris Henley QC said: “The Criminal Bar has spoken with one voice.
“The current relationship with the CPS is broken.
“95% are prepared to walk out or refuse to take cases if the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) refuses to fix it.
“There has been no investment for 20 years, nothing, it is unsustainable to carry on like this.
“The public would be appalled if they knew how bad things have become, change is needed immediately.
“These astonishing responses from frontline prosecutors, from the most experienced QCs to the most junior barristers in the early stages of their careers, show how broken our criminal justice system has become.”
He added: “Police forces have been denied the resources they need and now can’t cope with soaring serious crime rates.
“The Crown Prosecution Service has been battered by savage cuts to its budget and lacks the capacity to deal with increasing numbers of complex cases.”
Richard Atkins QC, the Chair of the Bar, said: “One of my priorities for 2019 is to ensure that those members of the Bar who do publicly funded work are fairly and properly remunerated.
“The many barristers who are instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service perform a vital public function, without whom the system of justice in this country would not operate.”
The Government announced extra funding for criminal defence barristers’ trial fees last year after they went on strike in protest at a new system for determining their legal aid payments.
A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said: “We understand that the self-employed Bar do have an important role in the Criminal Justice System and are working with them to make sure we have simple, fair, affordable and sustainable prosecution fee schemes for the future.
“We have already began our review and understand the wish for this to be agreed quickly. However, there is a significant amount of research and analysis needed to make sure we get a broad and deep understanding of the issues with the current schemes. This work will take at least four months. We are committed to getting this right and will keep the profession updated throughout the process.”