The largest survey of the criminal bar to date has revealed huge dissatisfaction over remuneration and the future of the profession.

More than 1,000 barristers responded to a questionnaire sent out by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) as part of a consultation exercise over the new Graduated Fee Scheme proposed by the Government.

It shows that 75 per cent of criminal barristers say the mood in chambers over fees is “angry” or “very angry”, while 40 per cent of respondents said that chambers were having problems retaining criminal practitioners.

Ninety-eight per cent said that criminal fees had to be brought in line with inflation. One criminal defence practitioner commented that he was earning less than a plumber.

Respondents also supported the reclassification of sexual offences and death by dangerous driving as ‘class A’ offences, bringing them in line with murder, due to the burden placed on advocates.

Concluding comments indicate that barristers want a move away from criminal practice and even the profession entirely. All but 3 per cent said they supported direct action by the CBA to raise the profile of the issue, saying the bar had a “genuine and legitimate grievance”.

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