The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) has alerted its members of a legal aid offer made by the government.
This news follows changes made by the government to the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS), which, it is believed, will further reduce the income of legal aid lawyers. CBA members have subsequently refused to take on any new publicly-funded cases from the beginning of April. In May, it was agreed that the CBA would look at “escalating the action” and consider implementing a no returns policy on crown court defence cases involving legal aid. This action has been suspended in light of the government’s offer.
In a statement, the CBA said: “We would like to make it clear to you that this offer is the culmination of a significant amount of work that took place over some time. It is right you should know that the initial, unsurprising and uncompromising position of the government was that no new money would be made available. This was maintained for many weeks.”
The offer itself includes £15 million new investment from the Treasury. £8 million of this would provide extra funding for “fraud, drug and high page sex cases”. Another £4.5 million “would be utilised in a negotiated way to reflect career progression and sustainability for juniors”. The statement also says that the offer includes an increase across all fees from April 2019 of 1%.
The CBA statement describes this as an “unprecedented commitment to further investment”.
Following this, a Heads of Chambers meeting has been scheduled for 31st May and then it is likely that CBA members will be invited to vote on the proposal.