Law Society backs new manifesto for justice

On Wednesday 1 May 2019, the FDA launches its Manifesto for Justice. Supported by the Law Society and the Bar Council, the manifesto seeks to ensure the criminal justice system avoids collapse.

Following real-terms pay cuts of up to 42% and a cumulative 40% real-terms cut in the justice budget over a ten-year period - more than any other department - the criminal justice system is under immense pressure.

The Manifesto outlines four key demands:

  1. a properly resourced CPS
  2. no more cuts to legal aid
  3. investment in digital disclosure
  4. competitive pay and fees

“Due to many years of underinvestment, our criminal justice system is crumbling,” said Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

“Things are going wrong at every level - creating a nightmare journey for the accused, for victims and for those who work in the system. More resources are desperately needed.

“A properly resourced system, including the Crown Prosecution Service, is crucial to ensure the criminal justice system is effective, efficient and upholds the rule of law. Without urgent action from the government, the system is at risk of falling apart.”

FDA national officer Steven Littlewood said “We all want to live in a society where access to justice is a basic right and where those who commit crimes are successfully prosecuted. If justice is to be done and seen to be done, then it needs investment. We are calling on the chancellor not to shirk his responsibility to protect the public and to ensure that we have the resources necessary for a world-class justice system.”

Chair of the Bar Council Richard Atkins QC said: “The Manifesto for Justice recognises a simple fact: whether it is defence, prosecution or the courts themselves, the entire criminal justice system needs to be properly resourced.”

The Secret Barrister said: “The Manifesto for Justice is a vital document in setting out the challenges that the system faces and identifying the decisions that must be taken if we are to pull back from the brink. In 2016, the Public Accounts Committee described the criminal justice system as 'close to breaking point'. Three years later, it is broken. And those responsible have to start putting it back together.”

The Manifesto is also supported by a petition calling on the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, to meet the Manifesto’s four demands and protect UK justice.

Notes to editors

The FDA Manifesto for Justice names two central problems: the challenge of digital disclosure and the violent slashing of the justice budget.

  • The volume of evidence that has accompanied the explosion of digital technology has made disclosure more time-consuming since 2010, yet the budget of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has fallen by 25% in the same period. Former director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, has warned the system is 'creaking' under a lack of resources.
  • Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) prosecutor numbers have fallen by 28% since 2010, while the remaining prosecutors have suffered real-terms pay cuts of up to 20%. Twenty years without an inflationary pay rise has seen a 42% real-terms pay cut for criminal legal aid solicitors.
  • Lawyers are being pushed from criminal law, and they aren’t being replaced. The low pay on offer is failing to recruit. In Norfolk, Suffolk, Cornwall and Worcestershire there no practicing criminal solicitors at all under the age of 35.

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.

About the FDA

The FDA is the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, representing more than 18,000 members at grades HEO and above. 

Membership includes senior civil servants, government policy advisers, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across the government and the NHS.

The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as 'The FDA' and can be described as 'the senior public servants' union.

Press office contact: Liam McCafferty | | 0208 049 4028