Barristers working in Lancashire are to gather outside Preston Crown Court tomorrow morning as the row over pay wages on.

They will be joined by hundreds of other criminal defence barristers who will 'picket' at different locations across the country on Monday from 9am onwards, for four days.

Barristers involved in legal-aid defence work from all courts in England and Wales have already taken part in two and three-day walk-outs over the last two weeks, and beginning tomorrow they will stage a further four-day 'strike'.

Hundreds of cases have been disrupted in Lancashire with more expected to be adjourned as the walk-outs look to continue.

The gatherings on Monday will mark week three of escalated Criminal Bar Association (CBA) action involving court walk-outs and refusal of new defence instructions under AGFS (criminal legal aid scheme for defence advocates), over ongoing action in relation to Government-set fees for criminal legal aid advocacy work, which began back in April.

The four days of action planned are from Monday, July 11, to Thursday 14.

There will then be a five-day walk-out the following week, meaning thousands upon thousands of criminal cases will be disrupted across the entire country. 

Criminal defence barrister court walk-outs will then take place every other week for a full week, with no end date, and with the 'strikes' remaining under review and subject to the response from the Government.

The CBA has already carried out days of action on June 27, 28, July 4, 5 and 6.

The Criminal Bar Association action is aimed at redressing the shortfall in the supply of criminal barristers to help deal with the crisis in our courts.

Jo Sidhu QC, chair, and Kirsty Brimelow QC, vice chair, of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “There is a recognition amongst criminal barristers at all levels of call and across all Circuits that what is at stake is the survival of a profession of specialist criminal advocates and of the criminal justice system which depends so critically upon their labour.

"Without immediate action to halt the exodus of criminal barristers from our ranks, the record backlog that has crippled our courts will continue to inflict misery upon victims and defendants alike, and the public will be betrayed.

"Our unity is our strength.”

Criminal barristers voted overwhelmingly last month in favour of escalating the action that had commenced on April 11, to include criminal defence barristers walking out until their demands have been met.

Demands first made, and balloted on in March 2022 include, among others:

  • an increase to advocates’ remuneration under the AGFS by 25 per cent per annum for claims submitted on or after April 11, 2022;
  • pay for written work as recommended by the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid (CLAR);
  • index link AGFS payments

The CBA is keen to stress that the action on Monday be referred to as gatherings and not pickets or picket lines.

The locations and courts involved in the gatherings are:

  • London, The Supreme Court
  • Birmingham Crown Court
  • Preston Crown Court
  • Plymouth Crown Court