Four trials which were due to have started at Ipswich Crown Court on Monday (September 12) had to be adjourned due to strike action by criminal barristers.

Members of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA in England and Wales, who have been walking out on alternate weeks, recently voted in favour of an indefinite, uninterrupted strike in their row with the Government over pay.

On Monday the trials that had to be adjourned because defence barristers were taking part in the strike action included four defendants accused of drug offences and one accused of assault.

Last Monday (September 5) five trials which were due to start on the first day of the barristers continuous strike action also had to be adjourned.

Ministry of Justice figures show more than 6,000 court hearings have been disrupted by the dispute over levels of legal aid funding.

Barristers are due to receive a 15 per cent fee rise from the end of September but there is anger that the rise will not be immediate and doesn’t apply to backlog cases.

Some defendants at Ipswich Crown Court are already having to wait more than a year for a trial date because of a build-up of cases caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the strike action is likely to add to the already substantial backlog in the crown courts – which stood at nearly 60,000 in figures published recently.

The CBA claims the criminal justice system is chronically underfunded and “creaking at the seams” after a decade of cuts and that this underfunding has led to an "alarming exodus" of criminal barristers, with the system teetering on the brink of collapse.

It claims the number of specialist criminal barristers has shrunk by a quarter in the last five years and the crisis is set to get worse, with a Bar Council survey in October 2021 finding that 25% of criminal barristers intended to leave.

CBA bosses are set to meet government ministers later this week to discuss the continuing strike action.