From 7th March 2014, Counsel will only do their own defence work, and not cover any appearances on behalf of other Counsel for the Defence. Hearings where Counsel are Instructed Advocate for the Defence, CPS and Civil Instructions are not affected.

A short explanation follows, with thanks to the CBA:

See here for
more about
Court Meltdown,
why Criminal Barristers are declining to accept Returns.

“From 7th March 2014 many barristers will withdraw their goodwill from the criminal justice system by refusing to appear in court on each other’s cases in protest at legal aid cuts.

Traditionally, criminal barristers have kept the courts running smoothly by moving cases between one another to ensure that every defendant has a barrister in court when the case is called on. The Criminal Bar Association understand that a number of barristers wish to suspend this practice of cooperation (known as ‘returns’) which barristers believe will leave the courts struggling to cope with a huge backlog of work, as barristers have to travel between courts to cover their own cases.

Criminal barristers who take this action are doing so to highlight the vital role they play in the criminal justice system, which they feel is being ignored in Minister Chris Grayling’s proposals to cut £220 million in legal aid fees, cuts neither justified nor necessary.”