Court reform

Unacceptable delays will continue without urgent funding

Sustained and significant investment is needed across the crisis-hit justice system otherwise unacceptable delays will continue, the Law Society of England and Wales has warned ahead of giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee.

The Justice Committee today (27 April) published its report on court capacity.

“This report shines a light on the shameful state of our justice system,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

“Decades of underfunding and cuts mean there simply aren’t enough judges, prosecutors defence lawyers and court staff left to cover the huge backlog of cases.

“Victims and defendants continue to face unacceptable delays. A traumatised victim can be left waiting years to see their assailant locked up, while others lose faith in the justice system altogether. An innocent defendant can find their life in limbo while they wait to clear their name.

“It is not only the criminal courts which are plagued by backlogs and delay, and we support the committee’s call for a specific action plan to ensure adequate capacity in the family courts.

“Sustained and significant investment is needed across the justice system. We have long warned about the crumbling courts estate and welcome the committee’s recognition of the urgent need to ensure courts are fit for purpose.

“We also agree with the need to ensure better data collection to inform decision-making.

“A courts’ inspectorate could help highlight and prioritise problems in the justice system, and we look forward to discussing with the Ministry of Justice how such a body might work.”

I. Stephanie Boyce will give evidence to the Justice Committee on the UK government’s proposed reforms of legal aid later today.

“The urgent bare minimum 15% fee increase identified in the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid must be forthcoming, rather than the woefully inadequate 9% increase proposed by government,” she added.

“Otherwise, we will see more solicitors leave the profession, and more firms close, meaning there will be fewer practitioners to handle cases. This will mean longer delays and is in no one’s interest.

“By properly funding legal aid we can address the backlog and ensure timely justice is available to all.”

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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