Barristers having to miss lunch because of criminal justice ‘crisis’
Barristers were regularly having to miss lunch as a result of the ‘crisis’ in the criminal justice system, according to the chair of the Criminal Bar Association. Writing the group’s weekly Monday message, Angela Rafferty QC reported on a recent straw poll which found that ‘very few’ of its members ‘had had a full lunch break’ in weeks.
‘The following things are routinely expected of advocates when everyone else is having a break – conferences, drafting admissions, preparing interview edits, legal research for the Judge, and sometimes doing skeleton arguments that have been asked for at a moment’s notice – and the list goes on,’ Rafferty wrote. ‘All of this might be acceptable if we are being properly remunerated and valued. But we are not. The system relies heavily upon the goodwill of the criminal bar, but the present crisis means that many are struggling to survive.’
Rafferty complained that talented members could not cope with ‘the attrition of endless hours for little pay’. She argued that the crisis in the system had ‘become so well known that it is in danger of being seen as unchangeable’.
‘The relentless cuts and refusal to recognise the importance of a principled, and not political, approach has left us all reeling. We must vociferously lead the campaign to stop this downward spiral. Action for justice is required. We should all stand together going forward and we are starting to take the steps needed to unite with other groups in the system to speak together on our common issues.’
Angela Rafferty QC
The CBA is forming a coalition with criminal legal aid solicitors to ‘campaign for the restoration of properly funded criminal legal aid and a halt in the degradation of the criminal justice system’ following the reforming po the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme – as reported in the Law Society’s Gazette here.
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