Criminal law barristers to strike in July over fees

Criminal Law Barristers To Strike In July Over Fees
Barristers will withdraw their services on a number of dates in July following similar action last October
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Muireann Duffy

Criminal law barristers are set to strike again as part of an ongoing dispute over the level of fees.

Last October, criminal law practitioners staged action of this type for the first time, aiming to secure an "independent, meaningful, time-limited and binding mechanism" for fees paid to criminal barristers engaged by the Director of Public Prosecutions and under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Scheme.


On Thursday night, the Council of The Bar of Ireland recommended to its criminal law practitioner members to withdraw their services on a number of dates next month.

The dates were confirmed as Tuesday, July 9th; Monday, July 15th; and Wednesday, July 24th.

The council said a 10 per cent restoration of fees announced as part of Budget 2024 represented "an unwinding of the 10 per cent cut that was uniquely applied to barristers in 2011".

It added that cuts made following the 2008 financial crisis continue to apply to payments for criminal law barristers, despite public pay agreements having restored remuneration levels across other sectors.


The council noted the Government had committed to reviewing the existing fee structure, but added this process is yet to begin despite being announced last October.

"The council has at all times made clear, both to Government and to our members, that we would be willing to allow a period of time up to June 30th, 2024, for the review proposed by the Minister for Justice in October 2023 to be completed," the council's chair Sara Phelan SC said.

"In light of the fact that this review has not yet even commenced, frustration has been growing amongst practitioners. We are simply looking for fairness.

"We have been seeking pay restoration for eight years. A Government commissioned review in 2018 acknowledged that the reversal of the cuts imposed on barristers following the financial emergency in 2008 was justified given the level of reform and flexibilities delivered by the profession. Yet, barristers continue to be treated differently to others in the criminal justice system and indeed to society at large."


Ms Phelan said they regret having to take this action, and will work with colleagues in the criminal justice system to minimise the impact on the most vulnerable people.

"In the meantime, we remain available to engage with Government – the ball is in their court," she added.

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