updated on 24 July 2019
Britain’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been urged by the Law Society to put the criminal justice system at the heart of the priorities of his new administration.
Law Society President Simon Davis said that “decades of cuts to this fundamental part of our country’s infrastructure means the whole system is crumbling,” adding that “every organisation has its list of asks of the new Tory leader – but few things damage the country’s health more than the undermining of our justice system.”
The Law Society proposes a series of measures to tackle the crisis, including making urgent changes to criminal legal aid fees to ensure the sustainability of the criminal justice system and conducting an independent economic review into the long-term viability of the criminal legal aid system.
Davis also offered the prime minister a stark warning of the devastating impact of a no deal Brexit on the legal sector. “England and Wales is one of the most respected jurisdictions in the world for its transparency, certainty and flexibility. English law is the most commonly used law by international business and for dispute resolution,” he said.
“However, preserving the legal sector’s strong economic contribution will require continued close co-operation with the EU and depend on the continued ability of UK lawyers to practise there. Unless alternative arrangements are agreed after Brexit, UK lawyers and law firms will fall back to operating under 31 different national regulatory systems across the EU and EFTA.
“People and businesses will continue to operate cross-border; therefore, an infrastructure which allows them to gain fast and effective access to cross-border justice needs to be maintained.”
In the press release yesterday, the Law Society additionally urged urgent changes to the funding of civil law, not least family issues, citing the changes to eligibility criteria and availability of legal aid as key problems that have left many unable to pursue civil legal cases through the courts.