Bar strike: what you need to know

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) is carrying out indefinite strike action from 5 September 2022, escalating its protest to the government’s proposals on criminal legal aid.
Barristers strike over pay outside the Old Bailey London (June 2022): group of barristers with megaphone and placards reading "All out to save UK justice"
Photograph: Jonathan Goldberg
Strike action ended
On 10 October 2022, the Criminal Bar Association voted to end its strike and accept a deal from the government of an extra £30 million on top of the 15% increase in criminal legal aid fees recommended by the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid. 

Read our response

Since April, hundreds of barristers have adopted ‘no returns’ as part of a push for the government to uplift rates by 25%. In June this was extended to include days of:

  • court walkouts
  • refusing to accept new instructions
  • no returns

From Monday 5 September, the CBA will hold uninterrupted ‘weeks of action’ on an indefinite basis.

The action is expected to bring the criminal justice system to a standstill and intensify existing backlogs in the courts. 

Read our current guidance for solicitors during the CBA strike action

See the CBA announcement on escalated action

Cases affected by bar action

If you’re a criminal defence representative and need to contact the court about any case affected by the CBA action, include the words “BAR ACTION” in the subject line of your email, so the relevant judge can be made aware as quickly as possible.

After we raised concerns that the SRA guidance risks placing undue burdens on solicitors where counsel is not available, the SRA swiftly amended its guidance.

Read the SRA guidance on professional duties during CBA action

Fee increases for September 2022

On 30 June, the government announced an initial increase to criminal legal aid fees, coming into force in September 2022.

Find out more about the initial increase

Solicitors voting with their feet

Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja said: “Whilst barristers vote to escalate their direct action, solicitors continue to vote with their feet by leaving the profession altogether.”

The duty solicitor rota for October 2022 shows a drop in the number of criminal law firms providing legal advice to people brought in for questioning at police stations compared to the current rota:

  • 9.4% drop in solicitors
  • 5.4% drop in firms

(Usually, numbers would see a boost at the beginning of a new contract.)

“We will have to wait for the January rota to see the final picture, but it seems clear that the numbers of firms and duty solicitors are not increasing as we would expect after a new tender,” added president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“This is a make-or-break moment for the future of the beleaguered criminal justice system.”

Read more about our campaign on criminal legal aid

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