Members of the criminal team at KCH Garden Square have taken the decision not to accept returns in defence cases from the 11th April 2022. This is part of the national Criminal Bar Association action in relation to fees.
It is with regret that members of KCH Garden Square have decided to take this action. There has been a dramatic decline in the numbers of criminal barristers over many years. This has only increased recently. Many of the current problems faced by the court system as it attempts to catch up with the case backlog in the Crown Court are caused by a lack of advocates capable of undertaking the work. Investment in the system is desperately needed and an improvement in fees for those working in the system – and on whose goodwill the system depends – is required.
The government’s response to the independent review into AGFS is insufficient. Whilst an immediate increase in fees was recommended as the minimum necessary, without scope for further delay, the government has chosen not to implement this but to offer increased fees at some future point for new work. This is likely to mean that there would be no increase in fees until 2024. The government has not given any commitment at all in relation to recommendations concerning the advanced recording of the evidence of complainants in rape cases, special preparation rates, fees paid for plea and trial preparation hearings or Youth Court hearings. A recommendation that there should be an independent body to advise in relation to future fees has been downgraded simply to a body without powers to even make recommendations.
We are aware that this will cause disruption. Members will, however, continue to do their best to ensure that we provide the level of service expected of us and maintain relationships of friendship and support that we have developed over many years with instructing solicitors and our partners in the criminal justice system.