Members of Linenhall Chambers have overwhelmingly decided to support the Criminal Bar Association call for direct action in relation to the new AGFS scheme. It means that most members will be refusing defence cases with legal aid certificates dated after the 1stApril, 2018.
We are a Chambers who prosecute and defend. We are proud of that. It is healthy and promotes true professionalism and independence in our specialist trial advocates.
We are taking action not because we believe the architecture of the new AGFS Scheme is objectionable. It is because there has been a refusal by the government to build into the scheme any increase in investment. It is because the government refuses to agree any regular review and potential for increases in fees in the future. It is because there has been no increase in government payments to those who defend in legal aid cases since 2007.
Members hoped that we could avoid taking direct action by positively engaging with the government. We are joining the action in the hope that the government takes note and chooses to invest in a system which is at breaking point. We are proud of being criminal barristers and are reluctant to disrupt proceedings involving defendants, complainants and witnesses. Our hope is that direct action may serve to draw attention to the urgent need to invest in the criminal justice system.