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Members of St John’s Buildings Chambers support the action recommended by the Criminal Bar Association in its announcement this week.
With the latest fee scheme proposed for criminal defence work we have now reached the point where goodwill can no longer be relied upon. Over the past 20 years, the profession’s fees have been cut by nearly 40%, mirroring the cuts to resources elsewhere. The profession engaged with the government in good faith over the structure of the new proposals, but the scheme has not been properly funded and there is no commitment to address that problem.
This is a decision which we take with extreme reluctance. Our professional training and instincts make us extremely reluctant to place defendants in a difficult position. We are conscious also of the impact of the Bar’s action on solicitors. But, this is a decision taken in the interests of many future litigants and defendants, whose interests will be very severely affected if the present failures are allowed to continue.
The criminal team also intend to support action by our solicitor colleagues and other groups in the criminal justice system who also seek the urgent injection of money into their own areas, as well as such further action as may be appropriate in the future.
Members of St John’s Buildings Chambers will not be accepting new cases under legal aid representation orders issued on or after the 1st April 2018.
The decision whether to accept work under the revised AGFS scheme remains a personal one for each of our barristers. In accordance with the ethos of our Chambers and our professional obligations, all members of our criminal team will continue to act in the very best interests of our clients.
As always, our criminal clerking team are the point of contact should anyone need further information.