Published on: July 19,2022 at 17:52 IST
Members of the Criminal Bar Association in England are peacefully revolting against the 25% rise in the legal aid fees paid to the parliament. It started with a two-day strike last month leading up to an extra day of protest every week. They have affirmed that they will stage a five-day walkout every other week if the government doesn’t agree on a reasonable deal.
The CBA claims that criminal legal aid fees have been cut by 28% in the last decade and is demanding a 25% increase. “We bring our action for justice to the heart of parliament because those MPs who represent us all, need to hear from those of us who prosecute and defend on behalf of the voiceless – in particular the victims of crime left to suffer and languish as a result of the government’s ongoing failure to stem the massive exodus of criminal barristers,” said Jo Sidhu QC, CBA chair.
The Ministry of Justice has agreed to a 15% fee increase for new instructions beginning at the end of September, the minimum recommended by an independent review, but has refused to apply it to existing cases. Given that barristers are only paid at the end of trials, and given the size of the backlog, they may have to wait years before seeing the increased fees.
The protesters are all set to meet the MPs at the parliament followed by the CBA members taking the charge ahead.