JUSTICE had another busy year in 2017. Here are some of our highlights:
On 25 April 2017 the Working Party report Increasing Judicial Diversity was launched, chaired by Nathalie Lieven QC. The report gives practical recommendations for increasing judicial diversity, exploring the structural barriers faced by women, people from visible ethnic minorities and those from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds in reaching the bench. It also explains why diversity is a vital constitutional issue, calls for systemic changes to increase accountability and improve recruitment processes, and proposes more inclusive routes to the senior bench.
JUSTICE launched a Working Party on Immigration and Asylum of its members on 2 May 2017, chaired by Professor Sir Ross Cranston, which followed on from our 2015 report Delivering Justice in an age of Austerity. The aim for the Working Party is to look at the determination processes in immigration and asylum cases and how they might be improved in the context of the HM Court & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) Reform Programme.
In October 2017 JUSTICE commenced a new Working Party called Assisted Digital. Chaired by Amanda Finlay CBE, this project will look in particular at the opportunities and pitfalls of digitalisation and doing justice online and virtually. It will focus on those who are digitally excluded or who require assistance with digital to ensure that access to justice is not diminished by the coming digital revolution in our justice system.
The poignant Mental Health and Fair Trial Working Party report chaired by Sir David Latham, was launched 27 November 2017. The Working Party was established in September 2016 with the assistance of Linklater’s’ pro bono team and 12 legal and medical professionals. JUSTICE has long been concerned that the criminal justice system is not suitably designed to accommodate people with mental health or learning difficulties. The Working Party developed robust and practical recommendations for reform that can be tested with relevant practitioners. The report makes 52 recommendations on different aspects of the criminal justice process to improve access to justice for those with vulnerabilities.
JUSTICE had an active calendar of events in 2017. These included:
- JUSTICE hosted a roundtable event at University College London with practitioners, experts and academics on the ‘Neither Confirm Nor Deny’ (NCND) response.
- London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) and JUSTICE co-hosted an event at judicial diversity aimed at city solicitors. Titled Where are we now and where should we aspire to be in the future? speakers included Lord Neuberger and George Lubega.
- JUSTICE produced a briefing on the Prisons and Courts Bill for the Second Reading. It addresses our initial concerns over the written and online processes created by part 2 of the bill, and the changes proposed to the judiciary and the Judicial Appointments Commission in Parts 3 and 4.
- Our Increasing Judicial Diversity was launched. The launch was hosted by BLP at Adelaide House, with remarks by the Lord Chief Justice and Nathalie Lieven QC. JUSTICE has decided to take up the challenge of reimagining the appointment and promotion of judges, with a view to a more inclusive, diverse judiciary. We believe that increased diversity in the judiciary will positively shape the development of the law, and that it is important that justice is not only done by, but can be seen to be done by, a judiciary which is more reflective of society today.
- A student event on Judicial diversity and the key to a successful judicial career was hosted by BLP at Adelaide House. The event explored and debated the key findings from the Judicial Diversity report while exploring judicial diversity and what is involved in a successful judicial career.
- Rachel Jones, Civil Justice Laywer at JUSTICE, was speaking on a panel discussion organised by UCL Law titled Tackling Sexism and Sexual Harassment in Law: The Practitioners View. The panel discussed how sexism and sexual harassment are affecting legal practice and how best to tackle it. She was joined by Karon Monaghan QC (Matrix) and Benil Salgin (The Boston Consulting Group).
- Max Hill QC gave the 2017 Tom Sargant Memorial Lecture at Shearman & Sterling LLP, talking about his work as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
- JUSTICE held it’s annual Human Rights Law Conference, where The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Hallett joined us as our keynote speaker. The programme for the event focused on the challenges faced by practitioners and the wider public policy debate on human rights law in the UK.
- There was a student event taking place at the University of Warwick to discuss the upcoming What is a Trial? Working Party and the experiences of lay users in the courtroom. The event also included a careers discussion.
- The Chair of the judicial appointments commission invited us to present our Increasing Judicial Diversity report to the Judicial Diversity Forum.
- There was a Mental Health and Fair Trials student event at Manchester University to discuss the impact of mental health issues in the criminal justice system. The event focused on our work on Mental Health and Fair Trials and also gave students the opportunity to quiz a careers panel of legal professionals on their path into the law.
- Justice Scotland held an event in its Beyond Law Series: Law and the Arts at the Parliament House. The event explored the challenges of incorporating criminal law into dramatic writing through the theme of crime in fiction. The event promised to be a unique opportunity to discuss the portrayal of law in fiction and debate whether the arts are getting it right.
- Our annual Human Rights Day Lecture with JUSTICE Scotland held at Pinsent Masons in Edinburgh and delivered by David Anderson QC. The subject of the lecture was entitled Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights and was drawn on David’s experience as the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.
2017 had both opportunities and challenges: the start of a radical £1 billion justice modernisation programme, a new Lord Chief Justice, three new Supreme Court judges, seven new judges to the Court of Appeal, a new Secretary of State for Justice and a new Minister of State for Justice. JUSTICE organised fringe events at the Liberal Democrats, Labour, Conservative and Scottish National Party conferences in September and October to discuss how to deliver justice in such a turbulent political time.
JUSTICE staff also spoke at numerous meetings, seminars, university law fairs and other events across the UK and beyond throughout 2017.
JUSTICE turned 60 this year! This was celebrated on 28 June at The Inner Temple Main Hall, with a key note address by The Right Honourable Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury and the then President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.
Andrea Coomber, Director of JUSTICE, spoke at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) Alumni Network careers event: An insight into careers in public international law . The event took place on 18 January 2017 and gave insights into some very different careers in public international law by barristers and lawyers from NGOs, international courts, other organisations and private practice.
Our Legal Director, Jodie Blackstock, spoke at a seminar on Understanding the Rights of Access to legal assistance in Malta. She discussed the implementation of the right of access to a lawyer, in relation to the European Court of Human Rights and national case-law. The seminar was organised by the Aditus Foundation and The Critical Institute.
JUSTICE took part in an EU-wide project on ill treatment by police officers. The report, published by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, is a comparative study of seven EU countries, funded by the Open Society Foundations. JUSTICE authored the England and Wales research, which is summarised in the main comparative report. This research project tried to analyse questions such as, why does torture and serious ill-treatment occur in some jurisdictions and not others? What are the relevant variables? Can lessons be learned from states that have a low incidence of torture and ill-treatment that can be used to improve the position in those countries that have a poor record in this respect?
On 8 October 2017, runners from across the legal profession took part in the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, in aid of JUSTICE. The runners raised nearly £10,000 for JUSTICE, which will support the Working Party What is a trial? in addition to our other work.
On 6 December 2017, JUSTICE agreed to host the successor body to the Administrative Justice Forum. It will be renamed the Administrative Justice Council (AJC) and will continue to advise government departments on administrative justice issues. Lord Justice Ernest Ryder, Senior President of Tribunals, has agreed to be the AJC’s chair.
We are immensely grateful to all the JUSTICE members and invited experts who assisted in these activities during the year. Without your support our work would not be possible.