Justice and austerity

As part of our new strategy, JUSTICE is returning to working more closely with our members. In 2014, we launched a Working Party of our membership on Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity, focused on the civil courts and tribunals, and chaired by The Rt. Hon Sir Stanley Burnton.

The report of the Working Party was launched in April 2015. It recommends:

  • The introduction of a new primary dispute resolution officer (a “registrar”) who will be responsible for proactively case managing disputes as well as actively resolving the majority of cases through a combination of mediation and early neutral evaluation. Judges will continue to resolve those cases requiring high-level judicial expertise in the ordinary way.
  • An integrated online and telephone platform offering comprehensive legal information, advice and assistance, helping litigants to navigate their way through the newly reformed justice system.

Importantly, the registrar model will significantly increase access to justice for litigants in person, who under the current system are automatically disadvantaged by their inability to obtain costly legal assistance and representation. Qualified, trained and empowered, the registrar will guide litigants through the civil courts and tribunals. At the same time, the use of lower-level officers represents a sizeable saving on the relatively expensive judicial time currently being used up in performing similar functions in the wake of recent austerity measures and the corresponding rise in litigants in person.

Sir Stanley was joined on the Working Party by Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, Andrea Coomber, Carlos Dabezies, Amanda Finlay CBE, Professor Rosemary Hunter FAcSS, Sir Paul Jenkins KCB QC, Andrew Lidbetter, Andrew Lockley, Ruchi Parekh, Nigel Pleming QC, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE and Professor Richard Susskind OBE. Their work was generously supported by Herbert Smith Freehills.

Read the full report.

An annexe to the report on legal expenses insurance is also available. Hard copies of the report can be provided upon request.

Read a summary and highlights from the report in our press release.


 The JUSTICE Working Party on Delivering Justice in an Age of Austerity regrets that the report contains the following errors:

  • In paragraph 2.7, the 2013 figures for judicial mediation in the Employment Tribunal refer to the Tribunal in Scotland. The figures for the Employment Tribunal (England and Wales) are even more impressive and should have been used. Of all cases subject to judicial mediation in the Employment Tribunal (England and Wales) in 2014, 69% were successfully mediated, saving a total of 1191 hearing days had a judicial determination been required in those cases.
  • In the acknowledgments section, Caroline Sheppard’s correct title should be listed as Chief Adjudicator, Traffic Penalty Tribunal.
  • In the acknowledgments section, Judge Bennett should be listed as Judge Jeremy Bennett.

The online version of the report has been updated to reflect these corrections. We sincerely apologise for the error and any inconvenience caused.

As part of the new JUSTICE strategy involving working more closely with our members, we will be establishing other working parties in the coming year. Any members interested in becoming more directly involved in JUSTICE’s work should look out for upcoming announcements of further opportunities.