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Barristers who ‘walk out’ may face disciplinaries

Barristers who take part in action over legal aid reforms could face disciplinary proceedings.

This week they voted to escalate legal aid action through no returns and no new instructions but the lord chief justice has warned that those who start action on Monday may face wasted costs hearings too.

On Monday, barristers are expected to gather outside the Old Bailey and crown courts in some of the UK’s major cities in protest, with solicitors encouraged to join them.

In a statement, the lord chief justice told judges that cases in which a communication is received from any member of the bar that they will not be attending court because of the CBA’s ‘days of action’ should remain listed.

He added that defendants should be asked whether they agree with their barrister’s non-attendance – and it will be for the CPS to decide whether to make an application for wasted costs. A failure to attend at court, having accepted instructions, may amount to professional misconduct.

A judiciary spokesperson said: “The lord chief justice has issued a statement to judges reminding them that the judiciary is not a party to the dispute between the Criminal Bar Association and the government. The judiciary will not enter into the substance of the dispute.”

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