updated on 04 December 2019
The body representing barristers has urged the next government to reverse funding cuts which have left the justice system “on its knees”, in a manifesto highlighting hundreds of court closures and the growing number of people having to represent themselves in court despite having no legal training.
The Bar Council has made six recommendations to the winner of next week’s general election, including investment and a shift in priorities to make accessible justice a more important part of the court system and restore legal aid.
The Ministry of Justice’s budget has been cut by 40% since 2010 under successive governments – more than any other government department. As The Guardian reports, more than half of all magistrates courts in England and Wales have closed since 2010, forcing defendants, witnesses, police, lawyers and justices of the peace to travel sometimes more than 50 miles to access local justice.
The manifesto states: “A properly funded justice system is long overdue. For years, successive governments have damaged it. The cumulative effects of ill-conceived, short-term decisions over the last decade is undeniable.”