Further detail on the Crown Courts crisis

..Is contained in this good piece from the Secret Barrister, who picks up on the description by Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, of the decision by the Criminal Bar association to suspend their goodwill in one area of work, as an “unnecessary and irresponsible strike”!

As the article points out the government response to the courts crisis, which they themselves have caused, has been the usual:

…regrettable cocktail of inertia and outright untruths.

Like the Health Service, the Criminal Courts are woefully short of staff, in spite of being run by a government that believes, allegedly at least, in markets, yet which somehow does not believe that if you are short of personnel, it is usually a good idea to try improving their pay.

Perish the thought.

The government ‘household’ books will never balance…

Yet another outright untruth of course….


  1. Andrew -

    Barristers are self employed. It is quite hard for a self-employed person to go on strike. They are at liberty to take or refuse work at will, subject to their professional obligations. If they don’t take on the work, they just don’t get paid.

    Ordinarily, the “cab rank” rule means a barrister must take any case within their knowledge and expertise if they are free to do so, without reference to the nature of the case, the identity or characteristics of the client, or the source of funding. But they can refuse if they are too busy, or the fee is not sufficient. The Bar Council decided in 2003 (!) that the “graduated fees” for criminal trials are not necessarily a proper professional fee so the work can be declined at will.

    No doubt Raab was deliberately overstating the case for political effect. It is not a strike – the criminal barristers are continuing to do the work they have been instructed to do themselves. They are just refusing to do extra work that the system has come to rely on them doing at short notice, but without paying them properly for it. They are simply refusing to take cases where another barrister has already been instructed but finds late in the day that they cannot appear in court (perhaps another case is running over, or they have two cases that start at the same time). It sounds similar to working to rule (which is not a strike anyway) but really it is refusing to be taken for granted.

    Raab is legally qualified. When did he last do any criminal legal aid work?

    1. Peter May -

      Raab is – but I’m not sure he’s ever practised.

      He’s obviously ideally qualified as justice secretary…

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