This morning, it was announced that Barristers across England and Wales will begin strike action from the 5th of September, amid ongoing disputes with the government over legal aid funding, pay and working conditions.
With an overwhelming majority of legal professionals voting in favour of the proposed action, it is expected to cause delays to thousands of cases, that will impact both victims and those that are accused and waiting for justice.
However, a spokesperson at BPP University Law School has warned that the years-long dispute is not only impacting lawyers currently in the profession but also those at junior levels or aspiring to become lawyers;
“The strike action we are seeing across the country is a result of the working conditions that Barristers have had to endure for a number of years, including pay cuts that have seen their income decrease by nearly a third (28%) since 2006.
“Those that have chosen to take part in the walk-outs will have not come to the decision lightly, as they will cause devastating delays to cases that are already behind due to the covid-19 pandemic, meaning that victims and those accused will have to wait even longer for justice to be served.
“Not only that, but huge amounts of money are likely to be wasted on courtrooms that are sitting unused while the strike action is in force.
“While some may think that the strike action is unnecessary or unjustified because lawyers are often thought to have well-paid salaries, the reality is that this actually only applies to a fortunate few that are high up in the pay scale.
“In fact, the current working conditions are causing new criminal barristers who start in junior level positions to walk away from criminal work before they reach mid or senior level roles.
“Young people are integral in bridging the gap between younger and more senior lawyers in the profession, and will often take the place of those at senior and mid-levels as they progress. However, if young people are being put off by unfair working conditions before they reach those career milestones or even enter the workforce, due to pay levels and working conditions, the profession’s diversity and inclusion will suffer as a result, alongside a continued backlog of court cases.
“It is, therefore, our hope that the strike action will result in some changes across the legal profession that will highlight the importance of barristers to the criminal justice system, and encourage young people into criminal work.”