JUSTICE has responded to the Law Commission’s consultation on its 14th Programme of law reform. We provided our views on the ideas for the programme of work put forward by the Law Commission and which are relevant to JUSTICE’s own work.
The Law Commission, like JUSTICE, carries out specialist law reform projects and we both apply similar criteria in determining what projects to undertake. We commented on a number of projects suggested by the Law Commission which are relevant to our areas of work:
- We think that there would be value in the Law Commission undertaking a review of the legal framework governing the role of automation in public decision making; these is an increasing use of automation by public bodies and clear gaps in the existing legal framework governing it.
- We strongly support the proposed review of the principles of information sharing between public bodies. Our work on housing, benefits and mental health in the criminal justice system has shown that information sharing is important to improving initial public body decision making and reforming dispute resolution and redress mechanisms.
- Family law. Our current work on private children proceedings highlights the inability of children to effectively participate in proceedings which concern them. We also have concerns about the ability of children to participate in challenges to school exclusions and in the youth criminal justice system. We suggest that there should be a broader project auditing and evaluating child participation and compliance with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child across the justice system.
- Justice in the digital age. JUSTICE agrees that there is a need to review the use of technology in courts and tribunals during the pandemic. However, we highlight the other work already being conducted on this.
- In light of our work on miscarriages of JUSTICE, we welcome the Law Commission’s proposal to examine appeal powers in the criminal courts. Any such review should include consideration of cases on appeal from the High Court which are “criminal cause[s] or matter[s]”, and over which the Court of Appeal currently has no jurisdiction.
- JUSTICE welcomes the use of technology to facilitate more efficient administration of justice, so long as it is done in a way which protects and promotes the rights of those involved. In particular, we consider that the use of body-worn cameras is in need of urgent reform.
- The clarity and coherence of substantive law is important to ensuring access to justice for lay courts and tribunal users. JUSTICE there welcomes any effort to improve the clarity and coherency of the UK statute book.