Portsmouth Crown Court quieter than usual as two cases can't go ahead due to barristers strike action

PORTSMOUTH Crown Court was far quieter than usual for a Monday as barristers across England and Wales began strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions.

By Steve Deeks
Monday, 27th June 2022, 3:59 pm

Two hearings at the court could not go ahead because of the action taken by barristers.

The cases affected were a trial and a pre-trial preparation hearing (PTPH).

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Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Monday was the first day of a walkout by thousands of lawyers across the country.

Barristers have accused the government of not listening to their concerns about the criminal justice system with them angry that a proposed pay rise of 15 per cent would not kick in immediately or apply to backlogged cases.

Monday’s walkout – the first of 14 days’ action planned for the next four weeks – meant that some courtrooms across the country sat empty, while others were only able to swear juries in before adjourning cases until later in the week, when lawyers are available.

Justice secretary Dominic Raab said the barrister strikes are ‘regrettable’ and will ‘only delay justice for victims’.

A spokesman for Portsmouth Crown Court said: ‘A trial and a PTPH hearing could not go ahead due to the strike action of the Criminal Bar Association.’

One barrister at the court admitted they were going on strike while others said they agreed with the action.

Another, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: ‘I think all barristers agree with the action.

‘Even if we’re not striking today we’re taking other action by not accepting new work. So if there’s a new case from today onwards and we’ve not been instructed by a solicitor we’re not touching it.

‘Hopefully it will impact justice for the good. Hopefully (the government) will fund it properly and take it seriously.’

Kirsty Brimelow, vice chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said: ‘The Criminal Bar Association has repeatedly warned the government that the huge decline in real incomes at the criminal bar poses the most serious threat to the British legal system in decades.

‘We have made our case over and over again to government but our warnings continue to fall on deaf ears.

‘This is a national crisis which is of government making and it must be dealt with as a national emergency.’