Lawyers are being urged to take “disruptive action” in a dispute with the government over legal aid payments, the Law Society of England and Wales has warned.
The panel representing the lawyers said an escalation of industrial action was “almost inevitable” because of the government’s “amazing refusal” to grant a 15 percent increase in criminal defense fees.
Lawyers went back to work last month after agreeing to accept a new salary offer from the government, ending a long-running strike action by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA).
Given the government’s stunning refusal to implement our demands for an absolute minimum increase of 15% for criminal lawyers, recommended in its own review, an escalation of action by law firm owners is all but inevitablePresident of the Law Society, Lubna Shuja
But there were fears at the time that the deal could lead to a strike by lawyers after the Bar Association said the dispute over funding for criminal legal aid – which court representation pays when defendants cannot afford their own – was ” not over yet.” .
Law Society President Lubna Shuja said on Thursday: “An escalation of action by law firm owners comes amid the government’s stunning refusal to implement our calls for a minimum 15% increase in attorneys for criminal defense lawyers, recommended in its own review , almost inevitable.
“The government has caved in to the lawyers’ strike but refuses to give parity to the lawyers who have kept the wheels of justice turning during this strike. This has angered and roused the legal profession.
“Some criminal lawyers are now considering forming a union to organize direct action. You have seen that this government does not listen to reason and that direct action gets results.”
Ms Shuja described lawyers as the “backbone of the criminal justice system” and said they “are leaving the profession in droves because they are not being treated fairly and equitably. Unless action is taken to prevent those who remain from leaving the country, court backlogs will continue to mount, many will be denied access to justice, the accused will not be prosecuted and talk of ‘tough on crime’ will be nothing but empty promises.”
She added: “If the government does not grant parity to lawyers when their full response to the review is released later this month, we will advise our members that there is no viable future in criminal legal assistance.”
The Department of Justice has been asked for comment.
https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/warning-of-disruptive-action-from-solicitors-in-pay-row-with-government-42134283.html Warning of ‘disruptive action’ from solicitors in pay row with Government