The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has issued guidance for members affected by action being taken by the criminal bar.
Barristers, in protest of issues within the criminal justice system and changes to the way advocates are paid in criminal legal aid cases, have been refusing work since the beginning of April. The guidance comes ahead of criminal barristers adopting a ‘no-returns’ policy on 25 May, where they will not cover for hearings where other barristers cannot appear.
CILEx represents members working at various levels in criminal practice, including paralegals, fully qualified lawyers, and advocates who practice in the magistrates’ courts and the crown courts on appeal. Some members will be placed under additional pressures as a consequence of the action, and may be asked to act outside of their area of expertise either by their employers or by the courts.
CILEx has already received reports of this occurring, including solicitor firms sending CILEx staff to court with clients without advocacy experience, and of members declining to act where judges have offered to extend rights of audience to members to enable trials to proceed.
The guidance reiterates the duties members have under the CILEx Code of Conduct to act within their competence, and refers to sources of support for members.