Legal News | Barristers Call Off Walk Out As Legal Aid Cuts Are Suspended

Criminal barristers have called off their walk out in protest against legal aid cuts as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed that they would be postponed until at least the summer of 2015.

However, the agreement will not affect protests by solicitors and probation officers, who will continue with planned action next Monday and Tuesday (March 31 and April 1).

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that the MoJ had agreed to defer most proposed savings until next summer when they will be reviewed. However, the ministry is still intending to save £215m from the annual legal aid budget by 2018-19.

The agreement between the ministry and the Criminal Bar Association comes after thousands of barristers and solicitors staged their second walkout on March 7, causing widespread disruption in the courts.

As part of the agreement, in addition to not considering any more walkouts, barristers will also drop a “no returns” policy, which meant that briefs for missed hearings were not being picked up, and the Criminal Bar Association has also dropped its objection to working at a reduced rate on the most complex, high-cost cases.

Mr Grayling called the agreement a “positive step forward”, while the Criminal Bar Association welcomed what it called a “breakthrough” deal, adding that it would give 89 per cent of criminal barristers, meaning those not working on the most costly cases, what they had wanted.

However, a spokeswoman for the London Criminal Court Solicitors Association said that, while the association took heart from the “minor concessions” Mr Grayling had made towards the legal aid bar and solicitors, for the thousands who are struggling to keep their firms going and cannot deliver the service they want to, it is not enough, so their action will continue.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London