Doughty Street Crime Team to take direct action in opposing legal aid funding reforms

30.03.18 |

Yesterday (29th March 2018) the Criminal Bar Association issued a statement in which it set out the devastating consequences of the UK Government’s underfunding of the criminal justice system. The latest blow is a series of reforms to criminal barristers’ fees in the Crown Court. Under the new fee regime which comes into force on 1 April 2018, and which the MoJ asserts to be ‘cost neutral’, we have calculated projected losses of up to forty per cent of a barrister’s income in certain types of case compared to the current fee regime. Not a single barrister in our crime team who assessed their income under the new scheme reported a cost-neutral outcome.


Barristers’ fees have been subject to savage cuts since 1997. It is our view that the premise of these reforms is misleading and that the reforms represent an attempt to introduce further substantive cuts to the legal aid budget. Having summarised the various ways in which this government is dismantling our criminal justice system, including cuts to the budgets of Probation, the Prison Service, HMCTS, and the police, the Criminal Bar Association has now advised criminal barristers to refuse instructions in cases under the new fee regime.


Members of Doughty Street's Crime Team have accepted that advice. We will not accept cases under the new fee regime and we will take part in days of action. We will support our colleagues across the criminal justice system who wish to protest against this government’s lack of respect for the work that they do every day to keep the system afloat.  


In particular, we support our colleagues at chambers and solicitors’ firms who will engage in direct action. We will work hard to support junior barristers who, through taking this direct action, will increase the financial strain under which they already labour as members of this profession – a profession whose value continues to elude the Ministry of Justice.


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