Yesterday Northern Circuit barristers went on strike, causing 15 trials and 42 other matters to be adjourned. Earlier in the month Michael Turner QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, accused the Lord Chancellor, Chris Grayling, of pushing the “nuclear button”  with the introduction of price-competitive tendering. The strike was a response to these proposals and other proposed reforms including 17.5% fee cuts, the “Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates”, and the removal of clients’ freedom to choose their defence lawyer.

The senior judiciary released a statement confirming that:

“The position of the judiciary is straightforward. It is constitutionally independent. It will hear any applications to adjourn, taking into account the interests of both parties and the administration of justice, but will only remove a case from the list if an application is made on properly arguable grounds.

“If no application is made or if it is refused, the court hearing will proceed on Monday as listed.

“In recognition of the uncertainty, the court will take steps to minimise any adverse impact on witnesses who have already been warned to attend on Monday.”

Despite the judiciary and CPS’s efforts, 400 barristers stayed away from court, disrupting listings across Manchester and Liverpool. The high-profile trial of Dale Cregan at Preston Crown Court was not interrupted, and a spokesperson for HMCTS said that no vulnerable victims or witnesses were involved in the adjourned hearings.