Spring budget: missed opportunity for justice

The spring budget was a missed opportunity for the government to provide desperately needed investment in our justice system.

Now ordinary people will be left to suffer backlogs and unimaginable stress and uncertainty about their cases, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

“We are disappointed the government has once again failed to invest in our justice system,” said Law Society president Lubna Shuja.

“The chancellor can find £63 million to invest in swimming pools but not our crumbling justice system.

“It would only take £30 million to bridge the gap between current government proposals and independent recommendations to increase solicitor’s criminal legal aid fees by 15%.

“Backlogs in every court means that for tens of thousands of people justice is delayed. Our courts are falling apart and there is a dire shortage of judges and court staff.

“This lack of interest means the public are the ones who ultimately end up suffering.

“Departmental spending continues to rise lower than the level of inflation, further squeezing the Ministry of Justice’s already limited resources and increasing pressure on our justice system.

“Should the criminal legal aid system collapse, this will mean criminal cases will be extensively delayed, the courts backlog will grow again and cause distress to victims.

“We call on government to properly invest in all areas of the criminal justice system to ensure progress is made on reducing the backlogs, so victims and defendants no longer face such long waits for justice.

“On civil legal aid, a recent Law Society public poll found that 90% of people in the UK think it is a good thing and want it to be available when they face life-changing legal issues.

“However, many find that when they need it, it’s not available.

“The number of people representing themselves in court has trebled. This means cases are taking longer and putting families through great stress as they try to get their arguments heard.

“We are pleased the government launched its Civil Legal Aid Review, but its timescales suggest that any meaningful change has been kicked into the long grass.

“Services are collapsing now. We cannot afford to wait for investment, if we want to ensure that support is there for those who need it in these turbulent times.

“The decisions made by the chancellor today will have a long-reaching effect on those seeking justice. We hope government will look again at providing the money the justice system urgently needs.”

Notes to editors

Read the Law Society’s spring budget submission

Read the spring 2023 budget in full

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: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928