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The Criminal Bar Association has announced that members of the criminal Bar have voted for ‘days of action’ due to start on Monday 27 June 2022.

Commenting, Mark Fenhalls QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:

“Each barrister who has voted is understandably angry and upset. Members of the criminal Bar have been feeling mistreated, undervalued and overwhelmed for a decade or more. The criminal justice system has been politicised by figures wishing to make political capital but unwilling to match the rhetoric with action and funding.

“All of this has been heightened by the stresses and strains of the pandemic, and we have been seeing flight from criminal practice – barristers abandoning criminal work to do other kinds of work that are better paid and less stressful.

“Any action taken must be a decision for individual barristers who will each have to consider their professional obligations under the Code of Conduct in relation to the commitments they have on any given day. The Bar Council Ethical Enquiries Service and Bar Complaints Advisory Scheme are available to support barristers through this period. 

“Last week the government committed to laying a Statutory Instrument before the summer to bring in fee uplifts in September. This is a welcome first step but must be followed swiftly by long term planning and a commitment to listen to the professions and to follow the evidence. Without this, barristers and solicitors will continue to find alternatives to criminal work, delays will increase, and public confidence in the criminal justice system will suffer.”


Notes to editors

1. Bar Council represents all practising barristers in England and Wales (around 17,000 members). The criminal Bar is the largest single area of practice within the Bar of England and Wales. In 2021-22:

  • 6,369 barristers (or 36.2 per cent of the practising bar) undertake some criminal work.
  • 3,403 barristers (or 19.3 per cent of the practising bar) undertake only criminal work.
  • A total of 4,744 barristers (or 27.4 per cent of the practising bar) state that their main area of work (for criminal barristers usually consisting of over 90 percent of their income) is in criminal practice.
  • The number of barristers declaring their practice was full time publicly funded criminal work was down more than 10 per cent in 2020-21 from 2019-20 (from 2,670 to 2,400).

2. The Law Society Gazette reported an MoJ announcement on Friday 17 July: Criminal legal aid fees will increase ‘by end of September’