The threat to escalate disruptive action over criminal legal aid could start immediately after results of a second ballot are announced on June 20.

Since April 11, barristers have been maintaining ‘no returns’ , whereby they have refused to cover cases returned by the original barrister due to a diary clash, because the government has refused to increase their fees by 25 per cent.

Barristers threatened more disruptive action but did not specify what this would entail.

Jo Sidhu, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said the action would start after the results of the second ballot are in.

He said: “The CBA will be consulting with our members, heads of chambers and circuit leaders on whether to escalate our action. The consultation will be followed directly by a further ballot. This will be your opportunity to indicate which, if any, course of action you wish to pursue.”

Next week the CBA will have separate meetings with barristers under and over seven years’ call, heads of chambers and circuit leaders. The second ballot opens on June 11 with results announced on June 20.

Criminal defence solicitors, who have begun a boycott of low-paid work, have already demanded harsher action, which could see them refusing to take on domestic abuse and youth court work.