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On Monday 6th January, nearly 100 barristers protested publicly outside Birmingham Crown Court against proposed changes to Legal Aid.

The government plans to cut £220 million from the legal aid annual budget by 2018-19, which barristers believe will destroy the criminal justice legal system.

In support of the action taken by the Bar, No5 Chambers Practice Director Tony McDaid said: “What they are doing is taking the profession back to Dickensian times. It means there will be lack of quality and there just won’t be the representation people have come to expect… They run the risk of completely wrecking a system that has served the people well and something has to be done to stop this.”

Michael Duck QC said that the most serious worry was the long-term damage being done to the criminal justice system due to the lack of recruits to the Criminal Bar. He said: “The simple question is where is the next high quality judiciary going to come from.”

Many of the barristers who took this action were concerned at the incorrect portrayal of criminal practitioners as “fat-cat lawyers”, and the misleading suggestion that the gross sums paid to any barrister conducting a legally aided case are to be equated with salary, whereas the reality is that the figures put out by the government include VAT (which is not part of the fee, but tax which the barrister is required to collect on the government’s behalf).  Further, each barrister has to pay from those gross sums considerable amounts in professional expenses, and receives no financial provision towards pension provision, maternity or sickness benefit, or holiday pay.

Please click here to read further articles as reported by the Birmingham Post:
Historic strike action for Barristers over legal aid cuts
Barristers strike over legal aid cuts’.