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Access to justice and the rule of law

Access to justice

In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers to account. Access to justice is the foundation of a fair and democratic society.

Promoting and protecting access to justice is a constant theme for the Law Society, and a core value uniting our diverse membership. Law Society president Andrew Caplen will seek to focus on two areas within this key issue during his term:

1) The barriers which prevent individuals, in particular those who are poor, vulnerable or marginalised, from seeking legal remedies; and
2) Showcasing examples of work undertaken by individual members, in particular drawing attention to solicitors who undertake work at home and abroad to seek redress for victims of gender-based violence.

Key areas

Post-legislative scrutiny of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act - Lead the Society's work scrutinising LASPO, including launching the Society's detailed evidence-base, speaking to the Justice Select Committee and lobbying Parliament.

See all our work on legal aid

View our consultation response to LASPO civil legal aid changes

Research - Using independent research into the contemporary meaning of access to justice to position the solicitors' profession as thought leaders and stimulate public debate.

View our research on criminal legal aid

Implementation of criminal legal aid reforms - Continuing to work closely with members to put their views and concerns directly to government. Continuing to lobby the government directly for changes that will allow firms to survive and so continue to support defendants.

See all our work on criminal legal aid

Pro bono work - Support the Society's work to support solicitors who provide pro bono legal assistance via, for example, Pro Bono Week.

Information on Pro Bono week

Civil justice - Supporting the Society's ongoing work to monitor the impact of the Jackson reforms to the civil justice system and to seek amendments to ensure that ordinary citizens can obtain legal redress.

See all our work on civil justice

Join the Civil Justice Section

Focus: Access to justice and gender-based violence

As president Andrew will pursue his strong personal interest in raising awareness of gender-based violence, showcasing the work of the legal profession in combating such violence and working to ensure that victims are able to access legal remedies.

Specifically, Andrew will:

  • Lead the Society's work to ensure victims of domestic violence have appropriate access to legal aid.
  • Promote good examples of employment practice among legal employers. Andrew will seek to raise the profile of best practice within the legal sector to address issues of domestic violence.
  • Showcase the work of individual members to combat gender-based violence. Many solicitors undertake exceptional work to assist victims of gender-based violence, human trafficking and other crimes. Andrew will use events and opportunities throughout his year to highlight and draw attention to this important work.

Rule of law

The rule of law underpins the very foundations of access to justice, enshrined in the Magna Carta. Article 39 of Magna Carta states that:

'no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land'.

As such the document established, for the first time, due process and the rule of law as fundamental to a successful society.

The Law Society will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015 with a world-class international conference, the Global Law Summit.

Find out more

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