Criminal legal aid fee increase to be fast-tracked, says MoJ

updated on 01 July 2022

Reading time: one minute

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has revealed plans to fast-track legislation that will see barristers receive increased legal aid fees at a faster rate. The announcement follows the start of a series of strikes at the Bar that started on Monday and are set to continue for four weeks.

The MoJ confirmed that barristers will receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September, while criminal solicitors will see a 15% fee rise for their work in police stations and magistrates’ and youth courts, with additional multi-million-pound reforms to solicitors’ pay still under consideration.

James Cartlidge MP, justice minister, said in a statement: “Our energetic efforts to tackle the courts backlog are working but the strike action by criminal barristers threatens all that progress, despite the very generous pay offer on the table. The typical criminal barrister will earn an extra £7,000 a year from September, so I urge the Criminal Bar Association to accept this offer to stop victims having to wait longer for justice.”

Responding to the announcement, Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce urges these changes to be “the foundation for further increases and not the ceiling”.

Boyce added: “These first-stage changes are welcome, with some rate increases set to be in place as early as September. The next steps will be to ensure our members see the full 15% rate increase recommended by the independent review of criminal legal aid. We also hope to see the Crown court scheme reformed.

“In order to secure the sustainability of the profession, to help tackle the huge backlog in our courts and to ensure timely justice for victims and defendants, the government needs to ensure all parts of the criminal justice system are properly funded.”