Criminal Bar backs decision by criminal solicitors to call off strike

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has welcomed moves by solicitors to call off their strike action.  Criminal practitioner solicitors had been protesting at proposed government cuts to legal aid since the beginning of July. Barristers joined the action on 27 July when members of the CBA voted to accept no new work and adopt a policy of ‘no returns’.

Mark Fenhalls QC, chairman-elect of CBA, said he was suspending ‘no returns’ with immediate effect. “There is no reason why barristers should not accept any fresh instructions,” he said. Fenhalls said solicitors and barristers “must continue, even at this late stage, to try to persuade officials and politicians that there are viable alternatives.”

The solicitors called off the strike, following meetings with the Ministry of Justice to discuss alternative savings to the second cut in legal aid fees which prompted the protest. The Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association and London Criminal Courts Solicitors’ Association said they “firmly” believed the time was right to suspend the action “as a gesture of goodwill and recognising the importance of this engagement”. 

The practitioner groups are currently consulting members on whether firms would be prepared to withdraw their bids for the government’s new contracts to provide 24-hour cover at police stations, to commence on 11 January next year. The deadline for responses is 28 August.

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