Why are criminal defense lawyers on strike and what happens to court cases?

Criminal lawyers in England and Wales voted in favor of a full-scale strike.

Members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) are going out every two weeks and will go on an indefinite, continuous strike.

This will effectively begin when the industrial action resumes on Tuesday, although the official start date is September 5 because the ongoing pattern of walkouts continues from a week on and a week into.

The PA news agency has so far considered the dispute.

– Why are lawyers on strike?

Lawyers are embroiled in a dispute over jobs and state-set fees for legal representation work, publicly funded representation for defendants who cannot afford to pay.

Chairman Jo Sidhu QC previously said the action aims to “shine a spotlight on the seriousness of the ongoing crisis in the criminal justice system”.

The CBA also claimed the government “apparently failed to recognize the magnitude of the crisis and to act with the urgency required”.

– How has the strike affected the justice system so far?

According to the MoJ, more than 6,000 court hearings have so far been suspended as a result of the dispute.

Data released under freedom of information laws shows that in the first 19 days of the industrial action, between June 27 and August 5, 6,235 court cases were halted, including 1,415 court cases, across England and Wales.

Defense attorneys strike action

(Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

– What effect will the escalation of the strike have?

There are some 2,400 full-time criminal justice attorneys and 1,808 CBA members out of 2,273 who took part in the vote voted to escalate the industrial dispute.

The lawsuit has the potential to derail the criminal justice system in the Crown Courts.

If legal representatives stay away from the proceedings, few will be able to continue.

It can mean that only the most serious and urgent cases can be prioritized.

As a result of the lawsuit, defense attorneys also refuse to step in and undertake court hearings and other work for colleagues whose cases overflow — which usually helps limit delays in the process of the case.

The peak could further exacerbate the backlog of cases waiting to be processed by courts, which has grown amid lockdown restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ultimately, this means victims may have to wait longer for justice and defendants may face delays in completing their cases.

– Has the government already offered the lawyers a pay rise?

Yes.

Criminal lawyers are to receive a 15% fee increase from the end of September, meaning they will earn £7,000 more a year, the Department of Justice (MoJ) has said.

But there was anger among lawyers that the proposed pay rise will not take effect immediately and will only apply to new cases, not those already in arrears awaiting court hearing.

The MoJ previously said it had “repeatedly explained” to the CBA that backdating salaries would require a “fundamental change” in how fees are paid, adding: “This reform would cost a disproportionate amount of taxpayer dollars and would take longer to implement.” That means lawyers would have to wait longer for payment.”

– What is the position of the government?

Ministers and officials have branded the decision “irresponsible” and warned the action will cause “unnecessary disruption” which will only result in more victims facing further delay and distress while they wait for their cases to be heard courts to be dealt with.

Downing Street has urged the CBA to reconsider its plans.

In making the wage offer, the Government agreed to follow the recommendations of Sir Christopher Bellamy QC, who carried out a review of the legal aid system by increasing investment in criminal legal aid by £135m a year, including an increase in criminal charges Lawyers.

But his report also warned that the sum was “the bare minimum necessary to bring the criminal legal aid system back to health after years of neglect,” adding: “I don’t see this sum as an ‘opening offer’, but rather what is required is to, as soon as possible, enable the entire criminal justice system to function effectively, respond to projected increased demand, and reduce the backlog.

“I do not rule out that further sums may be required in the future to achieve these public interest goals.

“In my view, there is no scope for further delays.”

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