As we enter a key moment in British political history, we are keen to keep our members up to date on all developments on the campaign trail.

All three major political parties have released their manifestos. Major announcements were made on legal aid, court backlogs and devolution.

Below is an in-depth briefing of the parties' announcements:

1. Labour manifesto: pledges on court backlog and trade

The Labour Party launched its manifesto for change on Thursday 13 June, with 135 pages detailing its plans for government.

The manifesto lays out its six first steps, focusing on delivering economic security, cutting NHS waiting times, launching a new Border Security Command, setting up Great British Energy, cracking down on anti-social behaviour, and recruiting 6,500 new teachers.

While not all of these will need new legislation, it is a good guide to its focus areas for those crucial first 100 days of government.

This was a well-trailed manifesto without surprises. However, there were key commitments in the justice, housing, business and trade spaces that we will be monitoring closely.

Sir Keir Starmer was keen to be seen as a safe bet for improving the economy, setting out tough spending rules to grow the economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.

The justice section of the manifesto focused on tackling crime and improving policing, especially with regards to violence against women and girls.

The manifesto also pledged to tackle corruption and fraud, and act on the findings of the Infected Blood, Grenfell and COVID-19 inquiries.

Members will be interested to see the commitments in the property sector, where Labour pledged to introduce a commonhold system, end leasehold and abolish section 21 eviction notices.

The party will create a new Regulatory Innovation Office, bringing together existing functions across government, which will help regulators update regulation, speed up approval timelines, and coordinate issues that span existing boundaries.

Key policies

  • As an initial step to address the courts backlog, Labour will ensure more prosecutors are available by allowing Associate Prosecutors to work on appropriate cases
  • Labour will introduce a ‘Hillsborough Law’ which will place a legal duty of candour on public servants and authorities and provide legal aid for victims of disasters or state-related deaths
  • Ensure there is a legal advocate in every police force area to advise victims of violence against women and girls
  • Reset the UK’s relationship with the EU and seek to deepen ties with Europe. However, there will be no return to the single market, the customs union, or freedom of movement
  • Improve the UK’s trade and investment relationship with the EU by tearing down unnecessary barriers to trade, including through a mutual recognition agreement for professional qualifications to help open up markets for UK service exporters
  • Britain will unequivocally remain a member of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • A new trade strategy to get UK business the access it needs to international markets
  • A ban on exploitative zero hours contracts and ‘fire and rehire’, and the introduction of basic employment rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal

2. Conservative manifesto: legal aid commitment and ECHR

Rishi Sunak launched the Conservative Party’s manifesto at Silverstone on Tuesday 11 June.

With the party currently behind in the polls, the launch was billed as a key moment for the Conservatives to try and put themselves in pole position ahead of voting on 4 July.

Crime and justice are a key plank of the document, with commitments to build prisons, boost police numbers and address domestic violence and rape.

The manifesto acknowledges the backlogs in the courts with a pledge to keep Nightingale courtrooms open, fund sitting days and invest in court maintenance.

However, outside of a welcome pledge to expand legal aid at inquests, there was little to address the pressures on criminal and civil legal aid. 

There had been speculation the party may use the manifesto to end the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Instead, the manifesto took a more equivocal stance, stating: “if we are forced to choose between our security and the jurisdiction of a foreign court, including the ECtHR, we will always choose our security”.

Key policies

  • Cut the COVID court backlog by keeping open Nightingale courtrooms, funding sitting days and investing in court maintenance
  • Continue to digitise court processes and expand the use of remote hearings
  • Match fund 100 criminal law pupillages
  • Expand the provision of legal aid at inquests related to major incidents where the Independent Public Advocate is appointed or in the aftermath of terrorist incidents
  • Expand the Pathfinder Courts pilot in family court proceedings and continue mediation vouchers
  • A new investigatory model for rape for police forces and prosecutors and pre-recorded cross-examination for victims in all Crown Courts
  • A recommitment to remove failed asylum seekers to Rwanda and a “regular rhythm of flights”
  • Reform asylum rules, hold an international summit and work with other countries to reform international laws to make them “fit for an age of mass migration”
  • Support our “world class legal services sector” through an Arbitration Bill

3. Liberal Democrat manifesto: support for human rights law and a new Welsh jurisdiction

Ed Davey launched the Liberal Democrat manifesto on Monday 10 June. The manifesto is titled ‘for a fair deal’ and it focuses on promising a strong local champions for constituents.

There was a strong emphasis on individual rights and reversing the direction of recent government policies.

For example, the manifesto promised to uphold human rights laws, with commitments to champion the Human Rights Act, and a promise to resist any attempts to weaken or repeal it.

The manifesto also stated that the Liberal Democrats would scrap anti-protest laws, restoring pre-existing protections for both peaceful assembly and public safety, and immediately halt the use of live facial recognition surveillance by the police and private companies.

In terms of immigration, again the Liberal Democrats committed to undo recent legislation, promising to scrap the Illegal Migration Act and the Rwanda scheme.

They also promised to uphold the Refugee Convention and provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees, helping to prevent dangerous Channel crossings.

The manifesto acknowledges the strain on the justice system, and commits to investment in the criminal justice system to tackle the backlog of court cases.

It also states that the Liberal Democrats will ensure survivors of violence against women and girls are properly supported in the criminal justice process.

The manifesto also committed to creating a distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales, to reflect the growing divergence in law as a result of devolution.

Key policies

  • Invest in the criminal justice system to tackle the backlog of court cases and ensure swift justice
  • Ensure survivors of violence against women and girls are properly supported in the criminal justice process
  • Set a clear target of halving the time from offence to sentencing for all criminals, and implement a properly funded strategy across the criminal justice system to achieve it
  • Implement a new data strategy across the criminal justice system to ensure that capacity meets demand, and to understand the needs of all users, especially victims, vulnerable people and those from ethnic minority backgrounds
  • Develop a workforce strategy to ensure there are enough criminal barristers, judges and court staff
  • Champion the Human Rights Act and resist any attempts to weaken or repeal it
  • Scrap anti-protest laws, restoring pre-existing protections for both peaceful assembly and public safety, and immediately halt the use of live facial recognition surveillance by the police and private companies
  • Fix the UK’s relationship with Europe and move to conclude a new comprehensive agreement which removes as many barriers to trade as possible
  • Create a new distinct legal jurisdiction for Wales
  • Bring forward a law to tackle strategic litigation against public participation
Find out more

As your professional body, defending the rule of law and championing your interests are at the core of our work.

Learn more about our three key asks of the next government

Throughout the general election, political parties and parliamentary candidates will go canvasing and connect with voters in their local area.

This is a unique opportunity to raise the issues affecting the legal profession.

Explore our guide on how you can ask your local candidates about their justice policies