EU dispatch: Irish barristers strike over legal aid fees

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Law students from across the European Union report for JURIST about law-related news and events that affect the European Union or its member countries. Ciara Dinneny, JURIST’s European Bureau Chief, is a trainee at the Law Society of Ireland. Irish criminal barristers withdrew their services on Tuesday, October 30th,

due to a dispute regarding the legal aid fee rate. The Bar Council of Ireland had announced that it would hold a one-day walkout in July. Fees were reduced in 2008, following the financial crisis. They have not been reinstated since. The Bar Council of Ireland has tried to work with the Government on reforming the legal system, but to no avail. The Bar Council of Ireland decided to withdraw services for a day in order to establish a fair, independent, and time-limited system to determine the fees payable to criminal barristers under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Scheme. The Circuit Court criminal list alone has 147 trials or trial matters listed. There are also 182 sentencing and 46 arraignment hearings. All courts in the country that hear criminal cases will be affected by this withdrawal. The Irish budget for the year 2024 will be announced one week after the strike, on the 10th of October. Justice Minister Helen McEntee spoke in favor of reversing the cuts. However, there has been no indication that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is making any changes.