Vigil 1

‘Neither victory nor defeat’: Bar ends industrial action

Barristers narrowly voted to end industrial action over fees yesterday. In a result described by the Criminal Bar Association as ‘neither a victory nor a defeat’, just 52% voted to accept the £15m Ministry of Justice. ‘Whilst the majority wishes to accept the proposal it cannot be said that the anger and disillusionment has gone away,’ commented CBA chair Angela Rafferty QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association

More than 3,000 barristers voted in the Criminal Bar Association ballot. ‘The damage done in recent decades will not be undone in weeks, or perhaps years,’ said Rafferty; adding that the proposal was ‘the beginning and not the end’ of the Bar’s campaign to ‘improve the broken system we all work in every day’. The barrister said that the fact that it had won ‘this small gain’ showed that the Bar was ‘both capable and motivated to unite and unite we will if things do not continue to change in the near future’.

‘We still face exceptional difficulties, as do our solicitor colleagues. This will not fix the terrible conditions, the unhealthy and unreasonably onerous working practices and the general decrepitude. However, if we consider it a start we can build on it.’

The CBA also launched  campaign to improve the lot of prosecutors. ‘For too long prosecutors have tolerated the intolerable too,’ Rafferty said. ‘We must work towards changing this as well as the continued investment in AGFS in the future.’

Appearing before the House of Commons’ justice committee yesterday Rafferty together with chair of the Bar Council Andrew Walker called for a protected budget for legal aid (as reported in the Law Society’s Gazette) ‘Those who understand the rule of law, understand its importance,’ Walker told MPs. ‘Take legal aid out of politics and you have a better hope of getting it right.’ He added that the UK’s international reputation is affected by how justice is treated.’

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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