Next government urged to restore our justice system to a source of pride

The next UK government should make our justice system a source of pride once again and unleash the economic power of legal services, the Law Society has said.

Setting out the Law Society of England and Wales’ key asks today, president Nick Emmerson said: “Whichever party wins the election they should place legal services at the heart of plans for economic growth, renew our commitment to the rule of law and work proactively to protect and secure access to justice.”

Economic Growth

“Legal services are a national champion of the UK’s economy; a powerhouse that creates jobs and prosperity across the country,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“The sector adds £60 billion to the UK economy every year and employs more than 1% of the total UK workforce.

“Legal services are also one of the UK’s most valuable exports. England and Wales is the second largest legal market in the world and the global jurisdiction of choice for international business deals. Our lawyers and law are sought after across the globe.

“The next government should take advantage of the legal sector’s export potential by ensuring legal services feature at the heart of trade agreements and securing greater market access and practising rights for our lawyers.

“It should also support domestic law firms to invest, upskill and adopt new technology.”

Rule of Law

“Commitment to the rule of law is not only a foundation of our democratic way of life, but also a key reason why the UK is a magnet for international business and investment,” said Nick Emmerson.

“This reputation is not one that can be taken for granted. The next government should commit to maintaining the UK’s human rights law framework through the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

“It should also ensure that the UK adheres to the international commitments that it has willingly taken upon itself.”

Access to Justice

“Our justice system should be a source of national pride and a beacon of excellence internationally,” said Law Society president Nick Emmerson.

“However, years of chronic underfunding mean it has begun to crack at every level putting its ability to provide even-handed justice in serious jeopardy.

“There are huge court backlogs leaving victims waiting years for justice, courts in disrepair, practitioners quitting the profession in droves and legal aid deserts all over the country which leave millions of people without access to vital free legal advice.

“The next government should help our justice system to become a source of national pride once again.

“Immediate steps it can take include increasing criminal legal aid rates in real terms by 15% and injecting £11.3m into civil legal aid for early advice to safeguard the system.”

Notes to editors

• More information on the specific steps we are recommending the next government should take here.

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.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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