Courts 'effectively inoperable' due to nationwide walk-out

Barristers across England and Wales will walk out of work this morning to protest against government cuts to legal aid. The chair of the Criminal Bar Association predicted the move would render courts 'effectively inoperable'.

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Barristers protest with placards in landmark walk-out

Thousands of barristers have chosen not to attend proceedings at courts in cities across the country today in an unprecedented walk-out by members of the criminal bar.

housands of barristers have chosen not to attend proceedings at courts in cities across the UK today. Credit: PA

Barristers and solicitors went on "strike" in cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.

Barristers and solicitors outside Southwark Crown Court, London, during a nationwide strike against Government plans to cut fees. Credit: PA

The nationwide protest, in response to Government plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19, is the first in the history of the criminal bar.

The protest adopted the hashtag #fight4legalaid Credit: PA

Read: Empty court benches amid lawyers' strike

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Empty court benches amid lawyers' strike

Barristers, pictured here in front of the Old Bailey, have staged a walk-out over legal aid cuts. Credit: Ryan Hooper/PA Wire

Lawyers' strikes over legal aid disputes have resulted in the unusual situation of two defendants appearing in court without the assistance of their solicitors.

Jurors in the case of brothers Muhammed Saeed Ahmed and Muhammed Naeem Ahmed were reminded by Old Bailey judge Gerald Gordon that the "lonely" courtroom was a result of strikes taking place across the country today over cuts to the service.

The legal benches in courtroom 16 were left completely vacant, with only the judge, jury, two defendants, one security guard, three members of the press and one detective present.

The brothers, aged 21 and 20 and from Bradford, deny a charge of conspiring together and with others to attend a place used for terrorist training.

How much do barristers earn?

A barrister carries a wig into the Royal Courts of Justice. Credit: Katie Collins/PA Archive/

According to the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council, the average barrister earns around £36,000 or £27,000 respectively, once tax and expenses are accounted for.

Prospects.co.uk, the UK's official graduate careers website, say that typical salaries for barristers in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) range between £30,000-£90,000 per year.

According to Chambers Student, a careers guide for the legal profession, says a barrister would be expected to earn between £40,000 - £70,000 per year after five years' practice.

However, those figures do not include deductions to cover V.A.T., chambers fees, pension provision, travelling and other expenses, a spokesperson for Chambers told ITV News.

Walk-out by barristers will 'not jeopardise trials'

The Criminal Bar Association has insisted today's action will not jeopardise trials, but warned that future trials could be at risk if the issue was not resolved.

It has been careful to call the walk out a "non-attendance" rather than a strike.

There will also be protests outside courts in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.

The Bar Standards Board has warned that any barristers who stay away from court will almost certainly be in breach of their professional code of conduct with "very serious consequences".

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Courts will be 'inoperable' as barristers strike over cuts

Criminal courts across England and Wales will be "effectively inoperable" this morning as barristers walk out in protest at government cuts to legal aid.

The Government aims to save £220 million from the legal aid budget
The Government aims to save £220 million from the legal aid budget Credit: Toby Melville/PA Wire

Criminal Bar Association chair Nigel Lithman said the "strike" had the backing of almost every chambers and said he expected "solid support" for the unprecedented action.

He accused Justice Secretary Chris Grayling of "manipulating" official figures to falsely portray lawyers doing criminal aid work as high-earning "fat cats".

The Government plans to cut fees as part of a bid to slash £220 million from the legal aid budget by 2018/19 - slashing them by as much as 30% in the longest and most complex cases.