Criminal Bar will strike if legal aid cut again

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has voted for strike action if the Government implements further cuts to legal aid.

The association passed the motion put forward by Mark George QC of Garden Court North unanimously.

George said: “I appreciate for some of you, this may sound radical. It is radical. We are in a radical situation. It’s time to fix the bayonets because we are not going to go down without a fight.”

He added: “I call it a strike. Others of a more delicate disposition may not want to call it that. We can call it the teddy bears’ picnic for all I care, but we must do it.”

The vote was first reported by the Law Society Gazette.

The Government wants to cut one fifth of the legal aid budget by 2018 and as part of this implemented the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO).

LASPO came into effect in April 2013, cut barristers’ fees for legal aid work and removed funding from many areas of work previously covered by legal aid such as divorce and custody battles and many immigration cases.

In September, Tooks Chambers announced it is to dissolve, with head of chambers Michael Mansfield QC blaming legal aid cuts for its demise (23 September 2013), while the deputy president of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale of Richmond, warned this month that legal aid cuts mean that “there will come a point when there are human rights issues” (1 November 2013). 

  • Read The Lawyer’s report on what legal aid cuts mean for the junior criminal bar (9 September 2013).