Barristers strike over cuts to legal aid
We told you recently about the government shutting down 91 'surplus' courts, and it looks like there's more legal bother afoot, as barristers are going on strike in a protest against cuts to legal aid.
Criminal barristers are going to start refusing to take on Crown Court cases, as they show solidarity with criminal defence solicitors, who are looking at cuts in their fees of 8.75%. Solicitors have already been striking since the start of July, refusing all new work in Magistrates and Crown Courts.
These cuts will make it harder for small high street law firms to stay in business, which of course, creates the kind of scenario that gives advantage to people with more money.
Jonathan Black, president of the London Criminal Court Solicitors Association, said: "Hundreds of solicitors' firms around the country will close down, developing instead into mass justice warehouses, legal aid warehouses, where cases will be packed high and sold cheap."
"High street firms that ordinary people know how to access will be decimated."
The past two governments have been taking money from the legal aid system, which sees lawyers paid from public money, so that people who can't afford representation can get the help they need.
So, while criminal defence barristers aren't actually affected by these cuts, they're showing solidarity with the legal profession, with the majority going on strike. Joanne Cecil, a barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said that criminal justice is "on its knees and broken" thanks to the measures brought in by the government: "this is really not about our fees, it’s about the wider impact on society."
"The impact of these cuts to legal aid is not just to defendants, but also victims of crime and witnesses, who have to deal with what is a creaking justice system."