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New data shows crisis at criminal Bar

Bar Council

1 min read Partner content

New data published today reveals the number of barristers practising full-time in criminal law has declined by more than 10% in 2020-21.

In 2019-2020 there were 2,670 and in 2020-21 that figure had reduced to 2,400.

This data was not available to Sir Christopher Bellamy QC during his Independent Review into Criminal Legal Aid and reflects the Authorisation to Practise process that concluded in April 2021. 

Mark Fenhalls QC, chair of the Bar Council, said: “The Bar Council has consistently said that both solicitors and barristers need an urgent injection of money immediately, a minimum of 15% as recommended by Sir Christopher Bellamy. This is essential funding to keep the criminal justice system afloat, and so that victims, complainants, witnesses and defendants do not need to wait years for trials to take place.

“Many barristers are burnt out and need a break from the relentless amount of work they are doing. Criminal legal work is incredibly challenging. The new data published today suggests that barristers will look for alternatives to criminal work whenever they can.”


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