Justice Week 2021

Hosted for its third year by CILEx, the Bar Council and the Law Society, Justice Week 2021 took place from 1 to 5 March 2021, exclusively online.

Collage of submissions for Justice Week 2021 photo exhibition
From the online photography exhibition for Justice Week 2021.

Justice Week was first held in 2018, and is championed by the Law Society, the Bar Council and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)

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Justice Week 2021

Justice Week logoJustice Week 2021 took place from 1 to 5 March, exclusively online.

Our aims

Justice Week exists in order to improve the ability of the public to access justice, and has the following specific objectives:

  • build public support and understanding for the rule of law and justice
  • increase public understanding of the role of government in the justice system
  • identify and secure support for actions which could improve justice

Our theme for 2021

Rights and Justice: the cost of COVID-19

No single event in recent history has had as pervasive, immediate and indelible an effect on all our lives, our communities and our institutions as the COVID-19 pandemic. And this has been as true of our laws and our justice system as of other essential public services.

Our most vulnerable citizens, from those at risk of domestic violence to people living in care homes, have struggled to access justice when they have needed it the most. Our courts and tribunals have had to embrace the world of remote hearings almost overnight, and it is not clear if and when normality will return. Our freedoms have been limited and policed in new and at times controversial ways.

Against this background, Justice Week 2021 provided an opportunity for a vital health check on our rights, our justice system and ultimately on the rule of law. 

Our planned resources and activities

We covered different themes every day during Justice Week 2021. You can see the list of events that took place below.

The week began with publication of a major new piece of opinion research, establishing how high justice issues are on the public agenda.

We asked the public what they think the impact of COVID-19 has been on their rights to access justice, and on the justice system more widely, and what government action they want.

As in previous years, the survey also explored how confident respondents would feel in accessing justice through the courts if they needed to, and whether this has changed since March 2020.

Over the longer term, our intention is to create a solid evidence base that shows the need and public support for sustained investment in the justice system.

The results of the survey will be available soon.

We engaged with parliamentarians through a range of social media and online activity to promote and highlight the work and importance of the justice system throughout the pandemic.

Go the extra mile for justice week logoWe challenged people to Go the Extra Mile for Justice with the Access to Justice Foundation to support free legal advice services across the UK during Justice Week.

2020 to 2021 was an incredibly difficult year for the not-for-profit legal advice sector, which has had to cope with an unprecedented increase in demand following the COVID-19 pandemic, whilst facing ongoing financial uncertainty. This was a critical time for the sector and the thousands of people that rely on it.

You can still take part in the Go the Extra Mile for Justice challenge. To get involved, visit the Access to Justice Foundation website, or email the fundraising and development manager, Laura Cassidy, at events@atjf.org.uk.

Mental health laws are falling short for many people in our society. Black people are four times more likely to be detained in hospital and 10 times more likely to be placed on a community treatment order under the Mental Health Act. It also makes no distinction between mental illness, or learning disabilities and autism.

The government is reforming this law with the aim of tackling these disparities and giving patients more of a voice. But it’s still essential that we all know what our rights are if we, or a loved one, become unwell, and how to challenge decisions.

Our expert panel discussed how the laws are likely to change, and what the real-life impact of this will be, including for the most vulnerable.

Justice Week Question Time was the headline event of Justice Week 2021 and featured an energetic online panel session.

Our panel of experts on all things rights and justice gave their views on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our democracy.

Speakers included Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court, Michael Olatokun, Tom Franklin and Professor Dame Hazel Genn.

Want to know what the disruption of 2020 meant for your civil liberties? Your access to legal advice? Your employment rights? The way Parliament and government can make and enforce laws in unprecedented times?

Watch the recorded event

If you have difficulties with the link, email events@lawsociety.org.uk.

In concert with Young Citizens and Allen & Overy, the Big Legal Lesson took place for the second year running, with the aim of boosting young people’s support and understanding of the fundamentals of the justice system.

Building on 2020’s lesson plan, secondary schools focused on some of the key rights that have been affected by COVID-19. We encouraged participation in the Big Legal Lesson even for those students who are home-learning because of school closures.

Read our blog on why young people need a big legal lesson

Justice Week photo exhibition

As part of Justice Week 2021, we ran an online photography exhibition to feature the impact of the pandemic on young people, helping to give them a voice about how their freedoms have been limited and policed at times in controversial ways.

See our photo exhibition


Young Citizens: The Big Legal Lesson

Blog on why young people need a big legal lesson

Resources to help teachers deliver a high-quality ‘Introduction to the Law’ legal lesson to their students. There are different versions for key stages 1 to 4.

Contact us 

Media contacts

If you’re a member of the media who’d like to know more about Justice Week, contact:

Ben Davies at the Law Society | 020 8049 3750

Steve Rudaini at the Bar Council | 020 7611 1429

Michelle Cross at CILEx.

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