Coffee House

The criminal bar is revolting

6 January 2014

10:30 AM

6 January 2014

10:30 AM

Something peculiar is happening at criminal courts across England and Wales this morning. Barristers from are staging an unprecedented walk out in protest at Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s plan to trim a further £220 million from the Legal Aid budget. Barristers in wigs and gowns are protesting at at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and at Crown Courts including the Old Bailey.

Since 2010 the Ministry of Justice’s budget has been cut by £1.3 billion, with a further £148 million to be cut over the rest of the parliament. The government asserts that the Legal Aid bill is too high. Since the coalition took power, the bill has reduced by £264 million – about 20 per cent of the total. It’s fallen by almost a third over the past 10 years. The bill for the most serious QC-led cases has fallen by 46 per cent since 2007. The criminal bar complains that stripping a further £220 million from the Legal Aid fund – less than the cost of two miles of the HS2 railway – will leave the independent criminal bar unsustainable.

The government has been guilty of misdirection: in October Grayling was caught out overstating a QC’s fee for a 60-day trial by almost seven times, but in December the new Justice Minister Lord Faulks recognised the criminal bar as ‘a profession in crisis.’


Sections of the press have criticised the Bar for being responsible for the ‘overpriced, agonising racket the British legal system is.’ The blunt characterisation of barristers as Rumpole-esque pinstripe-trouser wearing fat cats fails to delineate between the commercial and criminal bars. Official figures show that last year half of criminal barristers turned over £50,000 or less. Stripping out VAT, clerking, rent and other business expenses, their taxable profit is closer to £28,000. That makes no allowance for pension contributions, holiday pay or sick pay. The MoJ deliberately speaks of ‘fee incomes’ when it means ‘turnover’, as if barristers trouser the whole lot.

Today’s is an odd sort of strike – no picket lines as such, no running battles with the police, and only lasting a morning (3 ‘court hours’). Sarah Forshaw QC explained that the intention is that ‘disruption will be kept to a minimum.’ Barristers refusing to attend court this morning risk being held in contempt of court, convicted, fined for wasted costs, or disciplined by their professional regulator.

Of more immediate concern for the MoJ is the refusal of senior barristers to accept fee cuts in the most serious cases which are ongoing. Barristers have either returned those briefs, or simply refused to take them on at the new rates. Criminal barristers who frequently attend court for no fee at all have today drawn a line, saying they cannot afford to work for a 17 per cent fee cut.

Jon Mack is a criminal barrister at Blackfriars Chambers.

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Show comments
  • whs1954

    “Official figures show that last year half of criminal barristers turned over £50,000 or less.”

    Which of course means half of them turned over £50,000 or more… In my job, it certainly is not the case half of my colleagues earn over £50,000, or even over £28,000.

    • GB75

      It would seem you also cannot tell the difference between turnover and earnings

  • Terence Hale

    The criminal bar is revolting. It may be time to work for a living. There is much to do. For example a collective lawsuits of the asbestos victims against the insurance company’s similar to Ed Fagan 1995 Holocaust lawsuits against Swiss banks. The asbestos scandal hangs on the morel conscience of British industry and must come to an amenable solution.

    • GB75

      We always work for a living.

      We prosecute and defend those charged by the police.

      We don’t bring lawsuits for your pet causes

  • swatnan

    If Defence Counsel could persuade more of their guilty clients to confess, I might have a bit more sympathy for them. But, prolonged Trials is simply money down the drain.

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      I spoke to a client on Sunday – yes Sunday – for an hour: as a result of my advice he pleaded guilty on Monday thereby saving the cost of a four to five day trial. (Of course I don’t get paid for that.)

      This happens in my profession regularly – but since it is plain from your posts that you haven’t the least idea of how the system works – I wouldn’t expect you to know that.

      • swatnan

        I have a fair idea of what goes on, and a Diploma in Law.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          What do you mean by a “fair idea of what goes on”? Are you admitting that you have no direct experience?

          Let us know a little bit more about your Diploma in Law – by which institution was it granted and how does it qualify you to express an opinion on what happens in Court?

          Have you ever appeared in a Court of Law?

          I think not.

          Do correct me if I am wrong.

          • swatnan

            True, no direct experience; just Academic.

            • Jason Dunn-Shaw

              So your opinions are not informed by any actual knowledge.

              Tell us about your academic qualification.

              • swatnan

                I’ve just said: ‘Academic Stage’ of the Bar, Part 1.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  And will you be looking to find a tenancy in Criminal Law in the UK?

                • swatnan

                  No. I’m afraid age is against me now.
                  But good luck with the Campaign Against Cuts!

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  Many thanks.

          • kyalami

            This is a good idea. Do tell us about yourself, Mr D-B.

      • kyalami

        Oh no – you had to work on Sunday, Mr Double-Barrelled. How harsh. So unlike doctors, airline pilots, policemen, data centre workers or people at your local supermarket.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          You seem very bitter for some reason. The point about working on Sundays is that this makes a 6 – day week; and unlike those whom you list we do not get paid for it.

          • kyalami

            I’m not at all bitter. I know plenty of people who work long hours and six day weeks without special pay.

            • Jason Dunn-Shaw


              • kyalami

                Is that the kind of reasoned argument that one might expect from you in court? I’m far from convinced that browbeating witnesses serves justice well.

                Now, let’s see … my wife and I work 50-70 hour weeks. So does my sister and son. There’s no extra pay involved and the industries are IT, Pharmaceuticals, consulting and photography. Golly, that’s four and I didn’t even have to go outside family.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  Do you say that your entire family work a 6 day week for 5 days’ pay?

                  How odd.

                • kyalami

                  No, I did not mention my whole family.

                  And what we get paid, the photographer apart, is an annual salary. Welcome to the real world.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  So you work for an annual salary which works out at 6 days’ remuneration rather than 5?

  • David Booth.

    I’ve yet to see my first barrister down at the local food bank.!
    My advice to the lawyers on picket duty is – “If the jobs not paying find another job”

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      How do you know that you have never seen a barrister down at your local food bank? We don’t live in our robes.

      Many who do go to food banks are those who have been kept in custody for months, who have lost their homes and their jobs and have been found by 12 jurors – people such as you (unless you were not prepared to listen to the evidence) not to be guilty.

      The whole point is that if I do take on a different (by which I assume you mean different) job who will do mine in the future?

      Where will the judges be coming from in 15 years?

      Who will prosecute rapists and child-abusers. Are you up to the task?

      Please respond else people may think you to be an ignorant donkey.

      • LB

        breadwinner has been kept in custody for months


        That’s a failure of the justice system.

        Now perhaps barristers are stringing the trials out for the dosh.

        Last trial I went to, Bellingfield, that’s what I observed.

        Someone on trial, already on a whole life sentence, costing yet more millions in aid to lawyers.

        I’m sorry, but that shows a complete failure of the justice system. All that money wasted.

        Not surprising there are cuts.

        Then on top, you’ve got those human rights lawyers really getting up May’s nose. Wouldn’t surprise me either, that the laws come in in order to punish lawyers for things like Abu Quatada.

      • David Booth.

        No I’ve never seen a fully robed barrister at a food bank but there again I’ve never seen a unicorn but I’m pretty certain they don’t exist either.
        The fact that people are held in custody for months is a result of the shambolic legal system you appear to be defending.
        There isn’t the slightest danger of society running out of judges, more likely we will be over run by them.
        The Courts of this Country have a poor record in the protection of society so I would avoid shroud waving on that score.
        Yes I’ve had experience of food banks and yes I donate on a regular basis.
        The fact that you end your rant by resorting to personnel abuse and insults (against myself and/or donkeys) does not reflect well on you or the position you are trying to defend.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          The point is that we work against innocent people being held in custody for months. That is what we are there for and would like to be able to continue to do our job.

  • kyalami

    Two of my friends’ sons, Oxbridge educated and having been called to the bar, cannot find places in chambers. There is clearly an excess in supply of barristers vs demand. Economics says this will lower prices and clearly the government is doing just that.

    • Flintshire Ian

      Sir Keith Joseph refused to increase school teachers’ pay back in the 1980s on the basis that there were more people who wanted to become teachers than there were teaching posts available. Simple supply and demand fixing wages. But the “pay peanuts, get monkeys” rule does seem to have been the most obvious consequence of this approach if the decline in educational attainment is any guide..

      • kyalami

        a. Correlation is not causation. Lots of people blame the decline in standards on their favourite beet noir.
        b. Oxbridge 2:1 graduates who have been called to the bar are hardly monkeys.

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      Do you believe that someone who is “Oxbridge” educated is in some way more entitled to a place in Chambers than someone from other Universities?

      A 2:1 is a 2:1 from any University. It is not a First.

      We do not recruit people to Chambers solely according to their degree – we look for a combination of qualities – that is to say those which amount to “personality”.

      It may be that these boys were unsuccessful because other candidates were better appraised.

      It would be a sorry day if we gave preference to Oxbridge applicants.

      There has always been fierce competition for places in Chambers – that is what makes us a first-class profession – only supporting the best.

      (Bear in mind that any applicant is funded by other members of Chambers and not by any outside source.)

      Your observation that there is an excess supply of barristers is meaningless. Many fall by the wayside – they don’t get paid – those who are up to the job and perform it well – are those who object to having their fees cut by up to 30%.

      It is they who will suffer rather than your no doubt brilliant but failed friend’s sons who are no doubt well-equipped by virtue of their Oxbridge qualifications to make a substantial income in some other field.

      • kyalami

        Calm down, dear.

        I mention Oxbridge but could just as easily said, perhaps, Russell Group. I’m talking about two young men who went to universities where you had to be good to get in, who went on to get good degrees and who then were called to the Bar. They’re talented, personable and have proved themselves and yet cannot find a place in Chambers. There are plenty more like them.

        And, no, a 2:1 is not a 2:1 from any university.

        • David Booth.

          They cannot find a place in Chambers because they have fallen victim to the Law Of Supply And Demand. For many years the legal sausage machine has been churning out lawyers and there is not enough work for them all to do. Day time tv is all virtually funded by advertisements on behalf of Law Firms begging for work.

          • kyalami

            Quite possibly. However, I wonder why these qualified barristers and solicitors could not do this government work which would bring them in an income.

            • David Booth.

              I don’t know Kyalami, perhaps we should ask Jason Dunn-Shaw who appears to be putting in an extraordinary amount of time defending the legal profession. It must be a slack time in his Chambers.

              • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                It is well worth the effort to correct the ill-informed – or at least to state the facts.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          Indeed – Oxbridge give far more First and Third class degrees than any other of the Russell group – accordingly a 2:1 is worth less than from other institutions.

          • kyalami

            It’s not possible that you are as foolish as your post makes you sound.

            a. First you claim that all 2:1 degrees are equal, then you claim the opposite

            b. You’re factually incorrect: Oxford gives a few more firsts than other Russell Group unis but Cambridge comes in about 4th

            c. Even if Oxbridge did give more first and third class degrees, this would simply reflect how they distribute their marks. It would not reflect the quality of the degrees.

            I could go on, but the lack of logic, sound data and understanding of statistics shown in your post make it pointless. If, indeed, you are a lawyer you must be brighter than this so I assume you were tired and/or careless when you wrote this post.

  • Roy

    Why should the lawyer fraternity be exempt from the real world? Nothing is as financially incomprehensible as the law and its slow mechanism of getting things done. Starting work at court at 10.00 am or later goes far beyond the chances to get a day’s work in. And who is paying? Yes, you and I.

    • L. Mustard

      Roy – the ‘work’ doesn’t start at 10 that is merely a typical court sitting time. The work has often started many months before and so often is continuing into the small hours prior to the hearing. Legal aid has never received a ‘cost of living’ rise, therefore year on year in real terms the payment is less, however we have already received ‘cuts’. The legal bill is not 2.2bn but 1.9bn due to already existing cuts, the government is quoting misleading figures from around 3 years ago. We are not asking for a rise but just to keep our fees the same. Note I am also a taxpayer!

  • Ricky Strong

    From a friend of mine…

    “I will not be attending court on Monday. My absence is a simple protest against the persistent and deliberate attack upon my profession by this government.

    The UK is about to lose a body of highly skilled, committed and fearless advocates; whose goodwill and professionalism has oiled the cogs of the criminal justice system for centuries.

    The standard set by the independent Criminal Bar is one which legal systems all over the globe have sought in vain to emulate.

    Those that wrongly perceive criminal barristers to be “Fat-Cats” could never possibly even begin to understand the worth of a world class criminal justice system. That is, of course, until the guilty are acquitted and those that are dearly loved are wrongfully convicted.

    If the public wants to be represented and protected in the Criminal Courts by the likes of Tesco, Eddie Stobart and G4S, then so be it….

    I am sure there will be a points reward scheme for repeat offenders, and two for one discounts on convictions. I wonder too if they will introduce a self-service scheme to truly maximise their profits.

    Caveat Emptor”.

  • Hereward

    It is very misleading to quote all criminal lawyers average earnings. Juniors are poorly paid, but once thye make it to QC then earnings shoot up. Its a bit like saying the average marketing man’s salry is £28k, whereas we all know once after successful experience they make it to marketing director they are going to earn well into 6 figures.
    Non-criminal QCs , as well as commercial solicitors, are well over-paid, as those of us who have had the misfortune to use them know only too well.Most London firms bill out middle level lawyers at £200 upwards per hour.

    • ADW

      The commercial law market is lucrative but highly competitive – the clients are pretty hard nosed and not short of alternatives, so your criticism isn’t really valid. And in any event the commercial bar has as much in common with the criminal bar as Mercedes Benz does with a skateboard manufacturer

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      Doh! “Non-criminal QCs and commercial solicitors” are not the subject under discussion – and if you could not find a solicitors’ firm charging under £200 an hour or more then you are an idiot.

  • Kered Ybretsae

    A nice little squeeze on nice little earners, innit?

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      Glib and meaningless.

  • Swiss Bob

    Outsource the work to India, what’s special about the legal profession?

    • ADW

      Interestingly, India decided to keep the common law, post independence …

  • MirthaTidville

    The Criminal Bar has only itself to blame.It has milked the system for decades.The Criminal Court work is the quickest way to becoming a QC…and it has paid handsomely.So now its slowing down (I would love to say its stopping but its not) what..there will always be plenty wanting to get on that greasy QC pole..nothing will change…The Government is right on this

    • ADW

      “The Criminal Court …. has paid handsomely.”

      Your evidence for this? It’s pretty terribly paid, actually.

      • Jason Dunn-Shaw

        I note that you have not responded to ADW – have your reliable figures slipped behind the cushions of your sofa or did the dog eat them?

    • LB

      Hmmm lets see.

      First on the list, 4.5 million for 4 years work, with no risk.

      Yep, get on the legal aid bandwagon, it was great whilst it lasted.

      Lots of other examples on the list of millionaire barristers on legal aid.

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      In fact Civil Law is the quicker route to becoming a QC – do tell me if I am wrong (and why).

      The point is that if cuts are made there will be no-one coming into criminal law at all – so being a QC (whatever their rates) is an irrelevant consideration.

  • Greenslime

    Let them strike. Inconvenient in the short term but we need to reset the system.

    • Jason Dunn-Shaw

      “Inconvenient” to have your home repossessed?

  • McRobbie

    I presume savings could be made by preventing the BBC from taking non licence tax payers to court and the associated defence / prosecution costs..considering almost a 1/3 of court actions are apparently now BBC non payment related there is real saving potential for the public purse.

  • swatnan

    Wonder if the QC’s have got their Jumiors and Clerks to carry their placards?
    The Legal System is antiquated, costly and it should not fall on the public purse. Mediation and Arbitration and plain Common Sense are better ways, and less costly ways, of resolving conflicts particularly domestic conflicts..

    • Colonel Mustard

      Plain Common Sense is ok if it is applied consistently throughout the justice system. Post Starmer the CPS and police seem to be entirely devoid of it. Plenty of Common Purpose though.

    • ADW

      I imagine if you are ever charged with a criminal offence you won’t be looking to rely on mediation, arbitration and plain common sense.

      The legal system has its faults, no question, but at the same time is one of this country’s better institutions. If you doubt that, then imagine through some misfortune you were charged with a crime you did not commit. In how many countries would you rather stand trial than Britain? If there are many countries in that list, how many of them have the common law transplanted from Britain?

      One further example: when Qatar wanted to set up a money-no-object legal system to be the envy of the world, to whom did they turn? That of England & Wales.

      • swatnan

        True, but the adversarial system destroy’s many a witness confidence, and puts them off ‘The Law’ for life. We need to move away to a more fairer system as in Europe.

        • Fergus Pickering

          In what way is the French system fairer?

          • swatnan

            Inquisitorial not Confrontational.
            The aim being to get to the Truth of the Matter, not to stitch somebody up.

            • swatnan

              The prime aim of any barrister is to discredit any hostile witness, either witness for the prosecution or witness for the defence. Truth doesn’t really come into it.

              • Colonel Mustard

                That only applies in cases of 1 against 1 not where there is other evidence or other witnesses.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Bu it doesn’t work out that way, does it? Who represents the accused? Who speaks for him?

              • swatnan

                The Accused generally speaks for himself or herself.
                But it would certainly help matters a lot more if they confess right from the outset and saved us all a lot of hassle time and money. The CJS/Prosecutors/Police in most cases only bring a strong case to Court with Evidence; so in the vast majority of cases the Accused is Guilty. However they have no consideration for anyone but themselves a persist in going through a Trial knowing full well their guilt. Why not confess, and save us the bother. I sometimes wonder how Defence Counsel can sleep at night knowing their clienyt is guilty.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Another incredible comment. I suggest you read this:-


                  And choosing to ignore my comments does not invalidate them you silly man.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  I think the thumbscrew is what you need. Or perhaps the rack. It’s extraordinary how many witches were persuaded to confes their guilt. The money they must have saved. Do you know what the law is? I conspiracy against the poor.

                • swatnan

                  We’re not talking about confessions from duress or torure or rendition here; the judge would simply throw out those kinds of confessions. Even plea bargaining is a bit suspect, as the accused guilty party doesn’t really get their due deserts. Police generally follow procedure and the rules of evidence acording to their Manual. Voluntary confessions are acceptable. Confessions obtained from torture are unreliable

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  How will you know if a confession has been obtained by torture? Just because a defendant says so? That’s okay then. Or is it just possible that a lawyer may be better able to expose torture?

            • Colonel Mustard

              The ‘Truth of the Matter’ doesn’t come into it directly. It is a matter of proof beyond a reasonable doubt whether in the mind of a judge or a jury. It is not about stitching anyone up.

              Your comment is irresponsible.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Yes, there is a fair amount of propaganda now finding its way here and peddling the European inquisitorial system on the back of the treatment of ‘vulnerable’ witnesses by defence lawyers in specific cases. It is being pushed mainly by victim lobby groups.

          The problem is that many of the lobby groups seem to want a presumption of guilt on the part of the accused and a presumption of honesty on the part of any witnesses deemed ‘vulnerable’. Allan Levy QC points out the dangers of that in the article.

          So much British law, in both enforcement and prosecution, appears to be descending into a dependency on what is politically approved of – or disapproved of – in order to determine the safeguards for ensuring innocent people are not wrongly convicted. That primary protection has now almost switched to the supposed victim where in certain cases any result other than conviction is characterised as ‘unfair’ by the lobby groups concerned. For example the blanket demand for a higher conviction rate in rape cases appears to ignore the fact that in English law each case is decided on the basis of its own merits either by the judge or jury. As Mr Levy QC points out the onus should be on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt through the quality of the evidence in each specific case, not on whether the offence attracts the interest of powerful agenda lobbies and therefore a politically ‘acceptable’ outcome is required. Starmer’s activities as DPP in introducing an overt political element to prosecutions and courting specific agenda groups from a selective human rights angle was appalling in undermining the English common law. As a supposedly impartial civil servant he should have been sacked the moment he started playing those political games.

          Your comment makes an immediate presumption that a witness is always to be believed and therefore a sustained attack on witness credibility is unfair. You’d probably change your tune if you were wrongly accused of something and hauled through a court system where the witness against you didn’t even have to appear, let alone be subject to cross-examination. A principle of English law was the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the right to face and challenge an accuser was a cornerstone of that.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          “Destroy’s” “a more fairer system”

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          Are these witnesses who have been telling the truth or who have been lying? Do tell.

  • James Strong

    Pay defence lawyers properly; we need protection from the growing authoritarianism of the state.
    Save money by stopping prosecutions of people who give ‘offence’, whether in speech, print or social media.

    • FrenchNewsonlin

      It would be very interesting indeed to see a breakout of just how much it does cost to bring cases initiated by victimologists and all the rest of the fellow travellers that feed off the authoritarian hate speech, PC, and rights industries that now suffocate free speech.

  • dalai guevara

    “I fed an entire city for a year on a mile of HS2 track.”
    “I bought entire towns up North for a the equivalent of a couple of hundred yards of HS2 track.”
    No doubt we will soon hear these and other arguments made by grown men. Is this just?

    • HookesLaw

      the track in question will last decades whereas where will the money come from to pay your current costs tomorrow?

      • dalai guevara

        Ask the social market economists on the continent how they did it thirty/twenty years ago.
        There are three plus different nations you could get valuable intelligence from. You will care to note I have a personal favourite, HS2 to Lyon opened (!) in 1981.

      • LB

        So will the debt used to pay for it. Way beyond its life.

        Meanwhile you might like this

        Shows how much barristers were creaming

        • Matthew

          I don’t want to be rude LB but you are either being very careless or you are being dishonest. Your link is to fees for the Bloody Sunday inquiry which:

          (a) Has no relevance whatsoever to fees for criminal legal aid; and

          (b) Ended some years ago. Criminal legal aid fees have steadily fallen in recent years, by 13.5% since 2010 alone (in absolute terms, and even more if you take into account inflation).

          There is no other group of professionals paid for by public money who have had a steady reduction in their pay over such a long period as criminal barristers, or indeed at all.

          • LB

            Why haven’t you gone on the attack, about the lawyers on less than 8 quid an hour?

            So what it it ended 3 years ago. 4.5 million for 4 years work is a great deal, for the barrister. Look down the list, lots of them making lots of cash.

            Now ask yourself why people are anti lawyer.

            Hint, its the creaming of cash that has gone on.

            So perhaps like bankers, all of them being responsible for the crash, apparently, lawyers are responsible all of them, apparently, for the excess of bloody sunday.

            Interesting though, no evidence posted that can be checked.

            • Matthew

              As far as I can understand you LB you are talking nonsense. An exceptional inquiry (which ended in 2004) has no relevance to rates paid for criminal legal aid today.

              • LB

                Look at this way. Ended in 2010. 1.1 million plus a year. And a 13.5% drop, from your evidence means there are barristers pulling down nearly a million

                Here are what some of the other QC’s pulled in

                Edwin Glasgow QC 4,065,817

                Edmund Lawson QC 942,943

                David Lloyd Jones QC 1,095,966

                Gerard Elias QC 1,795,752

                Peter Clarke QC 958,853

                Sir Allan Green QC 1,522,441

                Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC 677,874

                Sir Sydney Kentridge QC 52,875

                Anna Worrall QC 100,457

                Another 4 million earner at the top.

                Then there’s another lot

                Christopher Clarke 4,497,963

                Jacob Grierson 394,879

                Alan Roxburgh 3,525,731

                Cathryn McGahey 2,492,473

                Bilal Rawat 2,547,142

                Millionaire after millionaire, all on public funds.

                You’re not making a particularly good case when the evidence is dropped in front of you.

                FOI request, So here are some hints.

                1. Those replying to the FOI request lied.
                2. Lots of evidence as to poor barristers. Hmmm difficult that one. There aren’t many.
                3. Hourly rates? Oh dear, they are still creaming it.

                So why not do the Labour thing. You know. Rent caps are needed. How about a wage cap on barristers. 50 quid an hour, maximum charge or you get jailed. Just an idea.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  Jason Dunn-Shaw – called to the Bar in 1992 – prosecuted more than 30 murder trials and a number of rapes. Now defends – taxable income this year: £7,000. £50 an hour? Heaven.

                • L. Mustard

                  Jason Dunn-Shaw I whole heartedly agree with you. I was called to the bar in 1999 my first years taxable income was below the threshold at which you were expected to make student loan repayments, in fact my taxable income was less than £8,000.00 (not even minimum wage). 10 years later my taxable was less than £39,000.00. I have never had a taxable income of 100k and am never likely to, but I strongly oppose my hard work and dedication being treated with such contempt. If we received £50 per hour for every hour worked I dare say I, like hundreds of others would be a good deal better off. I had to accrue a significant amount of debt to become a barrister and coming from very ordinary background I can say with confidence that these cut will ensure that the bar once again becomes the preserve of the very rich – strange that Cameron’s government should wish this! The MOST important strand to my objection is that those who work with such dedication will leave the bar, the very same barristers who fight fearlessly for their clients be that client the defendant or the Crown. Any one of us could find ourselves accused of a crime – take for example an allegation of causing death by dangerous driving so often ‘ordinary’ hard working people can have their lives blighted by such a situation, both victims and defendants. With a budget justice system I would not care to imagine how short changed everyone will truly be. I am saddened to read that so many people have such a negative impression of the bar, I am far from a fat cat and have never wanted to be but I would like to properly remunerated for what is a very important and stressful role.

                • LB

                  Why? Because you work in an industry where the state has the monopoly power. As such its going to squeeze its costs. In the case legal aid.

                  Now why are your fees being reduced.

                  1.The excesses of the past mean you like MPs have lost the trust of the public. Just as bankers get tarred with the sins of the few as a collective punishment, the same is being done to you. MPs started the game, only to be caught out when their thievery became known. So they will go after people.

                  2. Relative value.

                  You’re not as valuable for the majority, compared to other government services.

                  I’ve put this already today.

                  So lets play the game. Who gets funded out of

                  1. Pensions
                  2. Legal aid.

                  Answer pensions, win legal aid and you lose. MPs can cut your wages as legal aid, but not pensions, yet. They will because the pension debts are off the books, and the state can’t pay because it can’t get enough money out of people.

                  Next who gets funded

                  1. Pensions
                  2. NHS

                  Here pensions get cut, NHS preserved. The reason is that almost everyone is dependent on the NHS, but just pensioners on pensions.

                  So think back. Legal aid is for a minority. The middle class don’t see why they should pay, when they are excluded. Hence your pay is being cut.

                  When that spreads to pensions, where the middle class are means tested out of their pension, then expect the same to happen to pensions in general.

                  In both cases, you can see the trend.

                  And the core reason? All those pesky off the book debts.

                  So what’s needed to change?

                  1. You and the courts have to look at the costs.
                  2. MPs have to simplify the law.
                  3. The state has to default. Well its got no choice here.

                  However, I suspect its all going to go Pete Tong. If we have an underclass that riots for new Nikes, think what it will do with no giro. 30% of the UK has just enough cash to last a month. No giro means they are destitute. Can the state wean them off welfare? I doubt it.

                  So that’s what you get when you hide 8 trillion of liabilities off the books. People lose money. Now as a lawyer perhaps you can explain to others sections 2-5 of the 2006 Fraud act, and why hiding debts, causing loses to people is criminal

                • Matthew

                  You’re not terribly clear LB, but you seem to be under the impression that criminal barristers charge an hourly rate. Apart from a few very exceptional cases (where the hours worked have to be agreed in advance with the government) they don’t.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  Sorry LB – I simply asked where you got the information that barristers on Criminal Legal Aid were paid by the hour?

                  You pose a sub-philosophical theory which in no way addresses why we should have fees CUT by 30%

                  How can this reduction be justified as punishment for historic greed when our fees were fixed by Government in 1997 – seventeen years ago.

                  How can such a justification in any event explain 30% cuts to the fees of those who came to the Bar in those seventeen years?

                  Would you be so kind as to address the specifics – if you can.

                • David Booth.

                  Taxable income of £7000! You must give me the name of your accountent they appear to be doing a fantastic job on your behalf.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Everybody os anti-lawyer. In every country in the world.

              • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                Is that because they are all utter dick’s?

                • Fergus Pickering

                  No. Dicks is what they would be.

                • kyalami

                  I do not believe all lawyers are utter dicks. My own solicitor is a fine man. the first time I met him I saw him sitting at his desk in an impeccable suit. When he stood up I saw that he was also wearing black jeans and trainers. We have got on marvellously ever since.

            • Jason Dunn-Shaw

              Once you identify the turnover (not earnings) of 5,000 or so your assertions maybe meaningful.

        • Jason Dunn-Shaw

          Meaningless lies from the very people who are trying to impose these cuts – look at other analyses from independent sources. If you can’t find them online let me know.

          • LB

            Partly. Its an underestimate. They’ve used a 3% discount rate to make the number smaller.

            However, the pensions because of the triple lock are growing faster than inflation.

            So come on, how much does the state owe for its pensions.

            Real numbers, not mythical percentage of GDP codswallop, with references.

            Still waiting on you to fund some refererences that state the BS inquiry wasn’t funded by legal aid. Going to be a long wait isn’t it.

            • Jason Dunn-Shaw

              Come on old sweetheart – do reply to my specific questions – you started all this after all: just to remind you what they were:

              Sorry LB – I simply asked where you got the information that barristers on Criminal Legal Aid were paid by the hour?

              You pose a sub-philosophical theory which in no way addresses why we should have fees CUT by 30%

              How can this reduction be justified as punishment for historic greed when our fees were fixed by Government in 1997 – seventeen years ago.

              How can such a justification in any event explain 30% cuts to the fees of those who came to the Bar in those seventeen years?

              Would you be so kind as to address the specifics – if you can.

              • LB

                If you don’t understand the difference between paid by the hour and an hourly cost, then you shouldn’t be in the bar.

                So 1997. That’s before the start of the BS inquiry.

                So tell me, from the list of names I gave from the FOI request, for those paid over a million just what they were earning for an hour.

                I keep telling you, the justification is that they have run out of cash.

                PS. Last barrister who tangled with me was struck off. Mind you he was a fraudster.

                So come on. You’ve offered links to how much the state owes or is liable for things like pensions, PFI, guarantees, from the past since your so keen on it.

                I’m up for a good read.

                • Jason Dunn-Shaw

                  The BS inquiry was not a criminal trial and was not paid at Legal Aid rates. Instead the rates were set by the government which established it.

                  I have no idea how that massive income was made – off the scale for the best part of 5,000 of us.Perhaps you should ask them.

                  If the fact that the government has no money justifies a 30% cut to one profession why not solve our problems at a stroke by imposing 5% pay cuts across the board.

                  Just imagine how you would cope if your mortgage repayments were increased by 30% overnight.

  • Lee Moore

    “Barristers refusing to attend court this morning risk being held in contempt of court, convicted, fined for wasted costs, or disciplined by their professional regulator.”

    Yeah, that’ll happen. Woooooooooooooooolf !

  • Holby18

    I do believe that lawyers should receive a fair salary and that people should be funded by the State. However, over the years we have allowed legal aid to permeate many areas of our lives and costs did spiral out of control. Divorce is one area which we did not control and warring partners would have reached agreement if they had to pay for their costs. Because of the state of the public finances it is right that we review all taxpayer subsidised activity and I do not consider the law above such review. I have lived in other countries and am aware of the restrictions placed on recipients of legal aid to include income, length of residency and in some countries appeals to the European Courts.

    I have been a magistrate so am familiar somewhat with the system. I think the cuts are reasonable and am sorry that they are not acceptable to the legal profession. I regret that the public are not with you regarding fees. There have been so many examples provided to us of odious characters (now deported) costing the taxpayer a fortune. I acknowledge that legal protection against a powerful state reflects the society we live in where everyone is equal before the law. The vast majority of the public will not consider the wider ramifications and look at the costs only. They will not care about the criminals nor the diasadvantaged. They will not take into account that not all lawyers earn a fortune but will be swayed by the MofJ figures of how much certain trials cost and the money paid to high earning barristers.

    • HookesLaw

      A self serving lawyer desperate for a nice fat living off the taxpayer is given space for special pleading in the Spectator.

      • ADW

        Had you bothered reading anything about the dispute, you would have learned what the average criminal barrister takes home – a nice fat living it certainly is not. And, of course, should you have reason to need a criminal lawyer, you may well change your tune …

        • IRISHBOY

          Don’t worry about Hookey – we’re all used to his habitual knee-jerking, though it’s now spread to more than just the two knees.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Cuts in their money are never acceptable to lawyers.

      • Jason Dunn-Shaw

        Do let me know who does find pay cuts acceptable – just as a matter of curiosity.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Rapier-like, Mr Dunn-Shaw. You are right..

          • Jason Dunn-Shaw

            Thanks Fergus.

        • kyalami

          No-one does, but plenty have had to accept them.