Simon Spence QC has commented on the high number of criminal barristers leaving the Bar. He commented that ‘unprecedented funding cuts’ and court delays have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and have led to many junior barristers quitting the profession.
The Criminal Bar Association stated in The Times this week that 11% of junior criminal barristers stopped working pure crime in the three years to 2019, and it is thought that rate has continued over the past two years, resulting in one fifth fewer practising pure crime than five years ago.
Attrition levels among QCs have been similar, with up to a half fewer than five years ago. Simon Spence QC who works on the South-Eastern Circuit said:
“For years now, the criminal justice system has been subjected to unprecedented funding cuts, cutting it to the bone and, many would say, beyond. These cuts have applied across the board – the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the court service and legal aid fees paid to defence lawyers; both solicitors and barristers. The arrival of Covid and the closure of the courts from March until June or later added to the pressure under which the system was working…..As a result, the trickle of those leaving the profession, which became a stream is in serious danger of turning into a torrent.”
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