The government opened a four-week consultation on how the pledged £15m extra fees for criminal defence barristers will be allocated.
In June the Ministry of Justice announced extra funding after barristers at more than 100 chambers refused to accept new cases in protest over the reformed advocates’ graduated fee scheme (AGFS), and threatened to escalate their action.
In a Criminal Bar Association (CBA) poll, more than 3,000 barristers voted by a narrow margin – 51.5% to 48.45% – to accept the pay offer and discontinue action.
Under the government proposal, fee rates will be increased for child sex offences, dishonesty offences and drug offences. In addition a 1% fee rise across all offences will come into effect in April 2019.
Justice minister, Lucy Frazer said: ‘We have worked closely with the leaders of the Bar Council and CBA to address concerns raised over the AGFS and we now welcome the thoughts of the wider legal professions on the revised scheme.
‘We are committed to working with the sector to support and strengthen the criminal advocacy profession and will listen carefully to the responses we receive.’
But Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society, criticised the government for ignoring the concerns of solicitors over inadequate litigation fees.