The Crown Prosecution Service has agreed to pay barristers £500 upfront to reduce the impact of coronavirus on the criminal bar in a series of interim measures announced today.

Rebecca Lawrence, CPS chief executive, proposed an upfront Covid-19 fixed fee of £500 for prosecuting barristers in cases that have been previously adjourned for trial and have yet to have a main hearing because of the lockdown. The money will be deducted from the main hearing fee paid at the end of the case.

The temporary fee is due to be introduced in May and payments will be applied to cases chronologically based on the date of their existing original trial listing. Payments are likely to be made over eight weeks.

In an email to Caroline Goodwin QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Lawrence said: ‘I am pleased to let you know that our fee schemes will be temporarily adjusted to ensure payment for work performed, even where a normal invoice trigger point has not been reached. Prosecuting advocates play an essential role in our criminal justice system, and I hope that these measures will help to support you during the COVID-19 outbreak.’

Other measures include paying counsel for work done prior to the conclusion of a case when proceedings are delayed; maintaining timely payments for any work done throughout the pandemic; and taking into account the ‘operational challenges’ of remote working and a reduced work force.

The CPS said it will also issue instructions that all outstanding counsel fee payments are prioritised and processed immediately.