UK government to negotiate with striking barristers

updated on 27 September 2022

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Barristers on strike in England and Wales have begun their first round of negotiations with the new Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis.

According to BBC News Lewis said "constructive" talks were held with the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) and the Bar Council, but justice should "get moving".

The introductory meeting follows former secretary Dominic Rabb’s failure to meet with the CBA over legal aid disputes, which resulted in a vote last month in which a significant number of CBA members voted in favour of the strike.

The CBA’s dispute with the government concerns barristers’ pay, working conditions and legal aid funding, with the strikes set to delay thousands of cases.

Kirsty Brimelow, chair of the CBA, said the group is "willing to negotiate", having previously told MPs in September that she felt there was "no alternative" to strike action.

Following recent talks, Lewis, who was appointed to the role of justice secretary two weeks ago, stated: "I met the Criminal Bar Association and Bar Council to emphasise the need for striking barristers to return to work and get justice moving again.

"It was a constructive initial meeting and discussions will continue to deliver for victims."

The CBA is asking for a 25% rise in pay for legal aid work, to which the Ministry of Justice responded with a 15% rise. This was rejected by the CBA on the basis that it wouldn’t come into effect immediately or apply to existing cases.