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Barrister strike action: The criminal justice system is broken, says lawyer

todayJune 22, 2022 1

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“There are no fat cats in criminal law, just a smaller and smaller pool of very dedicated, very hard working people”, explains solicitor-advocate David Watts. As a regular lawyer working at Nottingham Crown Court, he has given his take on the planned strike action by some barristers in a row over legal aid funding.

Mr Watts, of Nottingham’s Johnson Partnership, told Nottinghamshire Live: “The Government has starved the system of resources for years, with the result that every victim, every witness and every defendant now faces interminable delays. The criminal justice system is broken and we have had enough. It is time that the Government took their obligations to society seriously. The ball is firmly in their court.”

Solicitor-advocate Andrew Wesley, of VHS Solicitors in Nottingham, is supportive of the action and hopes it brings matters to a swift conclusdion now the pressure has been increased by barristers across the country.

READ MORE: Ex-MP Anna Soubry’s work as a barrister sometimes pays less than £10 an hour

“Perhaps the shame is we (solicitor-advocates) were not invited to join the action, as we had done previously. And that may have made the action even more effective. I foresee that our trials and cases may plug gaps left in the court listing by the Bar action,” he said.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said several days of court walkouts will begin from next week. The promised industrial action, announced on Monday following a ballot of members and described by Justice Minister James Cartlidge as “disappointing”, comes at a time of significant backlogs across the court system.

They are the latest profession to go on strike, after rail workers began strike action yesterday (June 21).

The CBA said around 81.5% of the more than 2,000 members to respond supported industrial action.

Jo Sidhu QC and Kirsty Brimelow QC, from the CBA, said: “This extraordinary commitment to the democratic process reflects a recognition amongst criminal barristers at all levels of call and across all Circuits that what is at stake is the survival of a profession of specialist criminal advocates and of the criminal justice system which depends so critically upon their labour.

“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 strike action is intended to last for four weeks, beginning with walkouts on Monday June 27 and Tuesday June 28, increasing by one day each week until a five-day strike from Monday July 18 to Friday July 22. It means that cases at which barristers are required are likely to have to be postponed, including crown court trials.

Barristers are expected to stage picket lines outside court, including at the Old Bailey in London and at crown courts in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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