We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Pay rise of 10% for criminal defence lawyers
Barristers strike outside the Central Criminal Courts in Dublin on Tuesday, 3 October 2023 Pic: Sasko Lazarov/© RollingNews.ie

10 Oct 2023 / courts Print

Pay rise of 10% for criminal-defence lawyers

Criminal-defence barristers and solicitors are to get a 10% increase in fee rates next year, following unprecedented strike action by the criminal bar.

The Budget-announced increase in fees will cost the State around €9 million in additional criminal legal aid.


DPP-led prosecution work will also be paid more since, by law, parity must exist for prosecutors and defence lawyers.

An ongoing review of fees is also expected.

The move follows a “withdrawal of services” nationwide on 3 October.

The Bar Council fought for pay restoration, following recession-era cuts to fees.

Law Society President Maura Derivan said: “The Law Society has welcomed the announced increase in criminal-legal-aid fees to be paid to solicitors and barristers.

“The proposed investment in the criminal-legal-aid scheme announced in the Budget signals long-awaited progress towards full restoration of pre-recession fees for criminal-defence lawyers. Such restoration will be an important step in increasing the availability of criminal legal aid to those who cannot afford access to justice.”


Law Society Director General Mark Garrett said: “We welcome the minister’s commitment and look forward to working with the Department of Justice toward long-term sustainability of an efficient and effective criminal-legal-aid system.”

Bar Council chair Sara Phelan said: “All we have been seeking on behalf of our members is that they are treated fairly. The fact is that barristers have been treated differently to other workers in the criminal-justice system, and to other workers who are paid by the State, for many years.

“The allocation announced by Government today represents an unwinding of the 10% cut that was uniquely applied to barristers in 2011. This is a welcome and important first step.

Fee rates

“Payment structure and fee rates will require careful consideration to ensure that criminal barristers across all jurisdictions – including the District Court – are treated fairly, and that must include the continued unwinding of the cuts that remain, which date from 2009 and 2010, as well as the restoration of the link to public-pay agreements which was unilaterally severed by Government in 2008,” Sara Phelan said.

Seán Guerin SC (chair of the Criminal State Bar Committee) said: “Practising criminal law must represent a sustainable career choice if the rights of victims of crime and of those accused of serious crime are to be protected and vindicated.

“It’s a matter of fundamental importance for our democracy that the rights of those who engage with the criminal-justice system are defended by skilled and experienced barristers, and that work deserves fair recompense. Our members have participated fully in the ongoing reform and modernisation of the criminal-justice system, and we look forward to engaging with Government on the next necessary steps to secure a sustainable criminal bar.”

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland