Criminal barristers are poised to take ‘action’ to grind the courts to a ‘standstill’ over planned cuts to legal aid.

A press release issued by the Criminal Bar Association headed ‘CBA propose action in weeks – criminal justice system to grind to a standstill’ stressed the bar’s concerns over the government’s ‘sustained attack’ on the criminal justice system, with proposals to cut fees by up to 30% on top of 40% fee cuts since 1997.

CBA chair Nigel Lithman QC (pictured) said the form of protest is ‘still under consideration’ by a CBA action group. He confirmed it will take place in ‘weeks’ and said he ‘expects it to bring the justice system to a standstill’.

Over 400 barristers across the north stayed away from court in April in protest against the planned cuts and there have been calls for more militant action.

Meanwhile, Bill Waddington, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, has written to justice secretary Chris Grayling asking him to delay the implementation of any cuts, until the outcome of research on the financial viability of firms has been analysed.

Waddington said the outcome of research being carried out by consultant Andrew Otterburn, under joint instruction from the Ministry of Justice and Law Society, will not be available until after the first tranche of cuts has taken effect in February 2014.

However, the Gazette understands that the Otterburn research will be published with the government’s response to the second consultation, expected not next February but by the end of November.

  • Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson and legal aid chief Richard Miller have embarked on a series of nationwide roadshows providing the most up-to-date information on the MoJ’s plans and how Chancery Lane is responding to them. They run until 28 October.