07 January 2014
On Monday, Barristers and Solicitors took to the streets to voice their discontent at the proposed introduction of price-competitive tendering. This will include a £220m annual cut to the criminal legal aid budget by the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling.
Barristers stood in gowns and wigs outside magistrates and crown courts around the country including the cities of London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Preston, Birmingham, Newcastle, Winchester, Bristol and Cardiff.
According to The Independent, this is the first time in over a century that courts across England and Wales have witnessed a strike from the legal system, the last one reporting back to the 14th century.
Barristers feel that they are being unjustly labelled as being over paid and misrepresented as taking advantage of the public purse.
In reality, the issue is not about overpaid lawyers but about access to justice.
The General Secretary from The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers BobCrow said:
“This Union believes the proposals are seriously flawed and are another attack by this Government on working men and women. The right to access to justice and a fair trial will be seriously affected as members who face the misfortune of criminal charges could be denied Legal Aid to pay for their defences. The proposal also cuts down on the right to choose who should represent them as some lawyers may lose their franchises as a consequence of competitive tendering.”