Iain Dale takes on caller who has 'no sympathy' for barristers' strike

27 June 2022, 21:31

By Fiona Jones

Iain Dale challenges this caller who claims he has "no sympathy" for the criminal barristers striking because legal aid doesn't "usually lead to the best representation" anyway.

It comes after criminal barristers staged a walk-out of courts in an ongoing dispute over legal aid fees. As they campaigned outside London's Old Bailey, eight out of 10 cases were disrupted.

Under the legal aid system, the government pays for barristers to ensure suspects who cannot afford lawyers are represented and advised correctly.

The government, which sets the rates for legal aid fees, have proposed a 15% pay rise which barristers have rejected.

The strikes are for the younger criminal barristers, barrister and former Tory MP Jerry Hayes told Iain: "A kid who's highly qualified and has to go through enormous hoops to get into chambers, they now earn a median pay after 3 years of £12,300. They might as well be flipping burgers. It's for them."

However, caller Richard in Manchester rejected the "tribulations of these lawyers", arguing, "Like anyone in any profession you'll go through a period in your life where you will not earn a lot of money. Rest assured lawyers, if they're any good, earn fortunes.

"I have no sympathy for these people, I think they're wrong to strike."

Iain countered by referencing Jerry Hayes' point, "The problem we have at the moment is that the paying conditions are such that you'd have to be not very intelligent to take a career in criminal law at the moment because you'd probably only get paid £20,000- £25,000 a year."

The caller accepted that people working in criminal law "won't earn fortunes" and went on to question whether it is "worthwhile representing someone on legal aid."

Iain pointed out: "That's the problem here; a lot of people have worked out that it just isn't. So in the end people are going to go without any legal representation at all, and that isn't really the kind of society we want to operate in, is it?"


Iain countered by referencing Jerry Hayes' point, "The problem we have at the moment is that the paying conditions are such that you'd have to be not very intelligent to take a career in criminal law at the moment because you'd probably only get paid £20,000- £25,000 a year."

The caller accepted that people working in criminal law "won't earn fortunes" and went on to question whether it is "worthwhile representing someone on legal aid."

Iain pointed out: "That's the problem here; a lot of people have worked out that it just isn't. So in the end people are going to go without any legal representation at all, and that isn't really the kind of society we want to operate in, is it?"

Richard responded that legal aid doesn't usually lead to "the best representation".

"Yes, but we're getting to the point where they won't get any representation, and that has to be of concern," Iain said, to which Richard claimed that there will always be representation and lawyers complaining "sticks in his craw."

"I think if you'd be studying law for several years and you were earning £18,000-£20,000 a year, you might feel a bit cheated."