Criminal barristers have voted unanimously in favour of strike action if the government proceeds with further criminal legal aid cuts. But the Law Society has warned that solicitors considering similar action are in a very different position to the bar.
Mark George QC, head of chambers at Garden Court North, proposed a resolution calling on all criminal barristers to withdraw their labour and not attend magistrates’ or Crown courts on ‘a day or days of action’.
The motion was passed unanimously at a meeting organised by the Criminal Bar Association on 16 November. The motion also demanded that the government stay all its current reform proposals.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘The position of solicitors considering strike action is very different to that of the bar. Solicitors will be faced with medium-term obligations to the Legal Aid Agency, but will also face obligations under leases, their duty to their staff and, for very many, obligations to their bankers with the possibility of security over their homes.
‘The urge to take such action, when faced with such potentially damaging cuts, is perfectly understandable. However, as we have made clear throughout, the best route to influencing the Ministry of Justice is through hard evidence and reasoned argument.’
In a statement published ahead of next month’s special general meeting, the Society’s council said: ‘Much has been achieved, but much still remains to be done. Our formal response to the second consultation sets out the further changes required. We mustn’t give up now, given this key opportunity, before the lord chancellor reaches his final decision, to continue to advance crucial argument and reasoning.’