Five fixes for the justice system

Five fixes the lord chancellor can make to improve the justice system have been identified by the Law Society of England and Wales.

Alex Chalk KC is set to give evidence to the Justice Select Committee today (Tuesday 18 July) for the first time since being appointed in April this year.

“The justice system is in crisis with crumbling courtrooms, huge backlogs of cases and delays for court users and a chronic lack of personnel,” said Law Society president Lubna Shuja.

“There is no overnight solution to decades of neglect.

"However, the lord chancellor can make some short-term fixes which will help stabilise the system, cut the backlogs and improve access to justice. This will also save money in the long-term.”

The five fixes identified are:

1. Ensure courts are used to capacity

There are still far too many courts sitting empty every single day.

Efforts must be redoubled to ensure courts are used to capacity and are fit for purpose*, and that there are enough judges, court staff and lawyers to do the work.**

2. Fund criminal legal aid

Giving defence solicitors the minimum 15% legal aid rates’ increase recommended in the Bellamy review will help stop the exodus from the profession before it’s too late.***

There is a perfect storm in criminal justice with the number of duty solicitors dropping at the same time as police numbers increase leading to more cases.****

We are already hearing reports of suspects being released because police cannot find a duty solicitor to provide representation. This will only worsen if the system is not properly funded.

3. Restore legal aid for early advice

Restoration of legal aid for early advice can resolve problems before they escalate and therefore play a key role in preventing poor health, debt, homelessness and many other issues.

4. Improve IT

Improved technology can drive efficiency in our courts, saving time for lawyers and judges alike.

5. Collect better data

Better data will help show where investment is needed and what changes are working.

Notes to editors

*See our survey on the state of the courts

** See the daily information on how many courts are sitting

***Read about our judicial review on criminal legal aid

****See our duty solicitor projections

About the Law Society

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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