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Barristers to vote on ending strike action after pay offer, Government says

A continuous walkout has been held after the dispute over fees and conditions intensified.

29 September 2022

Barristers will be asked to vote on whether to end strike action in the wake of fresh Government proposals in the row over pay, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

According to the Government department, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has agreed to ballot members again after talks with new Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis in which he decided to propose further reforms to Government-set fees for legal aid advocacy work.

The offer represents “further investment of £54 million in the criminal bar and solicitors”, the MoJ said.

From left, Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis, alongside Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, at the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London, ahead of his swearing in ceremony as Lord Chancellor (Yui Mok/PA)
From left, Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis, alongside Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett and Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos, at the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London, ahead of his swearing in ceremony as Lord Chancellor (Yui Mok/PA)

The CBA did not confirm the move but is said to be considering the terms that have been offered.

A spokesman for the body said: “Constructive talks have accelerated.”

Mr Lewis said: “I greatly value the criminal bar and solicitors and the work they do every day in our crown and magistrates courts. They are crucial to reducing the backlog.

“My priority in these discussions has been to ensure that victims aren’t forced to wait longer to see justice done.

“These are generous proposals, and I would strongly urge all members of the Criminal Bar Association to consider carefully, end their strike and work with me to deliver better outcomes for victims of crime.”

Criminal barristers during their strike on Wednesday (Tom Pilgrim/PA)
Criminal barristers during their strike on Wednesday (Tom Pilgrim/PA)

A CBA spokesman said: “The CBA leadership has always maintained to its criminal barrister members since the action started in April that should there be any material improvement from Government to meet our six balloted demands… to address payment for all work done by criminal barristers, then we would put this to members in a new ballot where it would be for them to decide whether or not to suspend any action, pending any lasting settlement.

“That moment has not yet come but constructive talks have accelerated.”

Barristers in England and Wales are taking part in a continuous walkout after the dispute over fees and conditions intensified.

Prior to that, they had been striking on alternate weeks and have refused to carry out certain types of work.

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