The Criminal Bar has voted to accept the Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS) proposal from the government by a narrow margin.

Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members have been refusing new publicly funded cases since the beginning of April. The government put together an offer which included £15 million new investment, providing new funding for fraud, drug and high page sex cases.

A total of 3,038 barristers voted, with 51.55% voting in favour of the proposal and 48.45% voting against.

A statement from the CBA’s chair, Angela Rafferty QC, said: “Whilst the majority wished to accept the proposal it cannot be said that the anger and disillusionment has gone away. Indeed, it is exceptionally strong. The Criminal Bar is not going to be quiet.”

The statement also says that this new investment is “the beginning and not the end of our campaign to improve the broken system we all work in every day”. Rafferty urges legal professionals to consider the extra funding a start upon which they can build to combat “the terrible conditions, the unhealthy and unreasonably onerous working practices and the general decrepitude”.

The statement also announced the start of “the official campaign to improve the lot of prosecutors”.

“We make a commitment to you now to mirror our efforts on AGFS towards prosecution work.”

Rafferty added that the government’s offer and the close vote to accept it is “neither a defeat nor a victory”. She concluded by stating: ”The Criminal Bar has faced degradation and despair and it still does. This is a step forward. We must all ensure we do not take any more steps back.”

 

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