Striking barristers to meet new Justice Secretary

·2-min read
Criminal defence barristers outside the Houses of Parliament in London this July as they support the ongoing Criminal Bar Association action over Government set fees for legal aid advocacy work (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Criminal defence barristers outside the Houses of Parliament in London this July as they support the ongoing Criminal Bar Association action over Government set fees for legal aid advocacy work (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Barristers are meeting with the Justice Secretary for the first time since they went on strike.

Members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) were due to sit down with Brandon Lewis, who was appointed to the role two weeks ago, on Tuesday afternoon.

His predecessor Dominic Raab previously refused to meet with the organisation during the action.

The meeting was initially meant to take place last week but was delayed after the Queen’s death. While all planned demonstrations were also postponed, the all-out strike has continued during the national mourning period.

Barristers on strike are due to meet with the Justice Secretary on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Barristers on strike are due to meet with the Justice Secretary on Tuesday (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Barristers in England and Wales are taking part in a continuous walk-out after their row with the Government over pay intensified.

CBA chairman Kirsty Brimelow told MPs earlier this month the group was “absolutely willing to negotiate” and had been all year, but “there’s been no alternative (to taking action) because we’ve had absolutely no negotiation”.

Mr Raab was succeeded by Mr Lewis after becoming a high-profile casualty of incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss’s Cabinet reshuffle.

He had not met the CBA since members embarked on industrial action in April, but Ms Brimelow said meetings were requested “repeatedly”. Some did take place with junior ministers and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) officials.

The action was “disrupting trials” and victims of crime are “suffering the most”, Ms Brimelow said as she warned defendants would “increasingly” be let out on bail as their custody time limits expire.

Criminal barristers are due to receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September, meaning they will earn £7,000 more per year.

But there has been anger the proposed pay rise will not be made effective immediately and will only apply to new cases, not those already sitting in the backlog waiting to be dealt with by courts.

Further demonstrations are planned outside courts in Liverpool and London on Thursday, as well as by Parliament.

It is understood CBA members will meet on Tuesday evening to decide whether to hold more demonstrations in other regions, including the Midlands, subject to the outcome of the meeting with Mr Lewis.