The High Court has rejected a challenge by charities working with prisoners against legal aid cuts introduced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
ITV News cameraman Jim Dutton has tweeted this photograph from outside the Houses of Parliament where barristers and lawyers are staging a second walk out of courts in England and Wales over legal aid cuts
Lawyers' demo outside Palace of Westminster well attended. Feelings running high. http://t.co/reypbpUghs
ITV News cameraman Jim Dutton is at a demonstration where barristers are protesting over legal aid cuts.
Lawyers (and Silk actress Maxine Peake) in Legal Aid cuts demo. http://t.co/Pmqp3j11nl
Effigy of Chris Grayling at lawyers demo. http://t.co/OLMzol3F7w
I'm at a demo by lawyers worried about cuts in the legal aid wages. http://t.co/uVD5rkuhAJ
Britain has "one of the most expensive legal aid systems" in the world and the Government has "no choice" but to make cuts if it is to deal with deficit left by the 2008 crash, a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said.
Speaking ahead of a series of walk outs by barristers over cuts, the spokeswoman said:
– A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman
At around £2 billion a year, we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world.
As everybody knows, this Government is dealing with an unprecedented financial challenge and the MoJ has no choice but to significantly reduce the amount of money it spends every year.
We have spoken at length over the past year with solicitors and barristers about the reforms and our final plans reflect many of the changes they asked for.
It does mean fee reductions, but it also includes a series of measures to ease their effect on lawyers.
Courts across England and Wales are expected to close as barristers strike over cuts to legal aid.
Proceedings at major crown courts in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, among others, are expected to be suspended while hundreds of lawyers march on Westminster in protest at the Government reforms.
This is the second protest over the Justice Secretary's decision to continue with £220 million of cuts from the legal aid budget by 2018/19.
Nigel Lithman, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), said: "If these cuts are not addressed, then the British justice system, which is held in such high esteem around the world, will cease to exist as we know it and the British public can no longer expect true justice to be delivered.
"It is simply expected that the criminal Bar will accept cuts unparalleled in any other sector of the wider community."
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.
Barristers and solicitors went on "strike" in cities including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.
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.
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.
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.
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".