JUSTICE welcomes the Secretary of State’s intention to tackle the ‘creaking, outdated’ justice system

JUSTICE welcomes today’s speech from The Rt. Hon Michael Gove MP, his first address as Secretary of State for Justice. We support his intention to address the ‘dangerous inequality’ in our courts, including through reform of the civil justice system.

As JUSTICE Director Andrea Coomber comments:

“We are encouraged by the Secretary of State’s address which highlights the importance of access to justice, and is delivered in a refreshing, conciliatory tone.  We welcome his decision to take his lead on the reform programme from the judiciary and those who work within the system.

 The challenge is now in the detail, and we urge the Government to consider the JUSTICE report that outlines an achievable framework for much-needed reform of the civil courts and tribunals. We look forward to working with the judiciary, HMCTS and the Secretary of State himself on designing a fairer system that can deliver justice to all.”

 The Rt. Hon Sir Stanley Burnton, chair of the JUSTICE working party on Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity, also welcomes the announcement on civil justice reform:

“The right of every person to obtain justice, by access to independent and impartial courts, is an essential element of the Rule of Law and of our democracy. For most people, that right has become illusory. I am encouraged by the Secretary of State’s recognition of the crisis facing the civil justice system, and look forward to seeing details that can deliver  genuine access to justice.”

 We echo the Secretary of State’s concerns about the civil justice system being “too complex, too bureaucratic and too slow” and particularly welcome the recognition that:

“Across our court and tribunal system we need to challenge whether formal hearings are needed at all in many cases, speed up decision making, give all parties the ability to submit and consider information online, and consider simple issues far more proportionately.”

 This thinking closely reflects the proposals outlined by the JUSTICE working party on Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity.  You can read more about our report and its recommendations online.

Legal aid continues to be critically important in the endeavour to ensure access to justice. We are pleased with the Secretary of State’s announcement that no further cuts are planned – and hope that this positive approach is extended equally to the issue of court fees. JUSTICE remains deeply concerned about the impact of the legal aid cuts to date, which provides some of the context to our work on Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity.