England: Prosecutors threaten strike action over fees worse than McDonald’s wages

Crown Court prosecutors’ fees are worse than the wages at McDonald’s, a senior barrister has said.

Barristers who take instructions from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are to attend a rally next week to consider action that would bring trials to a standstill, The Times reports.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said yesterday that there were numerous instances of prosecutors being paid paltry rates.

It pointed out that difficult sentence hearings, which can run for an entire day, may attract a rate of only £60 while other hearings which require significant preparation and attendance at court for several hours pay a mere £46.50.

And these fees are gross figures, which do not account for 30 per cent deductions made by chambers.

Chris Henley QC, CBA chairman, said the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Max Hill QC, had acknowledged that the rates needed to be reviewed.

“Too often fees for prosecuting produce hourly rates worse than wages at McDonald’s,” Mr Henley said, adding: “This, sadly, is not hyperbole.”

He cited a sexual offences case in which there were 15 complainants. The prosecution barrister, he said, prepared an eight-page sentencing note for the judge, despite the fact the CPS would not pay for this work.

The CBA said it had sent a list of “reasonable demands” to the DPP, adding: “We do not accept that there is no money available to fund them.”

Mr Henley added: “If the answer is ‘no’, the CPS publicly and unambiguously refuses to pay and treat you properly, expects you to continue to work many hours for nothing, you need to know where you stand as we make decisions about the future.”

The CPS said: “We know it is essential that the CPS and external bar continue to work closely together. That is why we are carrying out a review of the graduated fees scheme and getting this right is a priority for us.”

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