Criminal barristers strike a deal
Taiwo Oshodi - 21 October 2022
After months of strike action by criminal barristers, a 15% increase in salaries related to criminal defense legal aid work proposed by the government has been accepted. The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) voted to suspend group action on the strike, with 57% supporting the deal.
While the offer was initially rejected by members of the CBA, new Justice Secretary, Brandon Lewis, went a step further with the offer. The deal now gives barristers the opportunity to claim on expenses for court preparation work. The government’s critics were quick to note that a 15% increase was recommended as a bare minimum to keep the system functioning effectively by the government’s own independent review of the situation.
On face value the move gives the government breathing room on the issue, but Law Society president Stephanie Boyce highlights frustration faced by the group’s members; “the government has found a magic money tree to stop the disruptive action of barristers – money that it claimed was not available to pay solicitors fairly.” While the deal has been accepted by the majority of members, the CBA still stresses that the “criminal justice system remains underfunded.” Suspension of strike action is no absolution, and deviation from this outlined plan may yet see strike action further down the line.