The Commission on Justice in Wales is currently reviewing the Welsh justice system under wide ranging terms of reference. JUSTICE submitted its evidence to the Commission last week. Our submission focused on court closures, digital exclusion, legal advice shortages and criminal law advice and representation. In particular, we advocated for a flexible deployment of the court estate in Wales, a realistic assessment of the viability of criminal law representation in Wales under current funding arrangements and the need to consider the efficacy of Online Justice Services, and ‘Assisted Digital’ in remote parts of Wales.
JUSTICE had the benefit of seeing the evidence submitted to the Commission by the Wales & Chester Circuit and notes its evidence that the per capita spend on criminal legal aid in Wales is only 74% of the figure for England and that the main chambers of the Welsh and Chester Circuit have declared that their members have individually decided to no longer undertake criminal legal aid work. It is important that in light of court closures in Wales, HMCTS and the Commission think innovatively about how the court and tribunal estate can be designed to promote access to justice for all Welsh court users. The court and tribunal estate should be designed and deployed flexibly, to account for the Welsh context.