Criminal barristers will decide today whether to accept the government’s £15m off er of investment into the criminal justice system to settle their boycott of new legal aid work.
A ballot which has been open all weekend is due to close.
A result is expected by tomorrow morning.
If the proposals are rejected it is likely that a policy of ‘no returns’, which has been suspended until tomorrow, will immediately take effect, potentially throwing the court system into chaos.
The Criminal Bar Association’s executive committee is not taking an official line but each chambers attached to the CBA has individually polled its members. More than 100 chambers have been refusing to take on new legal aid work since 1 April in protest at what they say are continuing cuts to legal aid fees for advocates.
The Ministry of Justice offer, which is understood to be final, is: an extra £8m for fraud, drug and child sexual abuse cases that lose out under the new fee scheme; a 1% increase in advocacy payments from April 2019 (£2.5m); and further funding of about £4.5m, mainly for juniors.