Fair play must guide new justice minister
The crisis in the justice system should be lighting up the new justice minister’s inbox, the Law Society of England and Wales said on news Brandon Lewis has been appointed lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice.
“Justice and fair play are hallmarks of Britain and traditionally a source of pride for the country. But today they are less recognisable features of our national landscape,” Law Society vice president Lubna Shuja said.
“Backlogs in the courts mean people are waiting years for their day in court, their lives in limbo. The new minister has an opportunity to re-energise the system and restore people’s faith in British justice.
“A vibrant legal aid system is the only way to ensure everyone is treated equally before the law. But after decades of underfunding and cuts people cannot get the legal aid they need to resolve life-changing legal problems.
“The new minister should begin by making sure anyone who cannot afford legal help is eligible for state-funded expert advice – the cost-of-living crisis makes this change to the means test more urgent than ever.
“Civil and criminal legal aid solicitors are being forced to close their doors because government rates have been stagnant for more than two decades. The minister should set rates of pay at the level needed to make the system viable so these vital public servants can continue to serve the country properly renumerated for their expertise and hard work.
“I look forward to working with Brandon Lewis to share our members’ insight from the frontline of justice. Solicitors see problems first-hand and early, and they can shed light on workable solutions.
“When we meet there will be much more for us to discuss, from how the new government should rethink the damaging Bill of Rights Bill to how solicitors will be a backbone of support for local communities grappling with the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis.”
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
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