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Party manifestos analysed for the 2017 general election

22 May 2017

Our priorities for the election were set out in Our vision of law and justice. They included to maintain the integrity of the jurisdiction, remove barriers to justice and uphold the rule of law. A number of our calls were adopted by the different parties in their manifestos following our campaigning and we will continue to engage with the parties to make sure that these commitments, and our wider priorities, are reflected by the next government.

Conservative Party

The Conservative and Unionist Party launched their manifesto Forward, together – Our Plan for a Stronger Britain and a Prosperous Future on Thursday 18 May. 


  • Use the twelve priorities from the Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech for Brexit
  • Leave the single market and Customs Union but seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement
  • Work together with the EU in the fight against crime and terrorism and secure a smooth, orderly Brexit
  • Create a United Kingdom Shared Prosperity Fund, taken from money coming back to the UK as we leave the EU
  • Encourage trade with countries outside the EU through a Trade Bill, a network of nine regional Trade Commissioners and reconvening of the Board of Trade

Access to justice

  • Continue to modernise courts, improving court buildings and facilities and making it easier for people to resolve disputes and secure justice. 
  • Crack down on 'exaggerated and fraudulent' whiplash claims and consider a ban on companies’ cold calling people encouraging them to bring personal injury claims.
  • Introduce a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and create a Domestic Violence and Abuse Commissioner.
  • Ensure publicly-funded advocates have specialist training in handling victims before taking on serious sexual offences cases. 
  • Ensure that child victims and victims of sexual violence are able to be cross-examined before their trial without the distress of having to appear in court.
  • Domestic violence

Rule of law

  • Not bring the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law and will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway.
  • Remain signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights for the duration of the next parliament.
  • Restrict legal aid for 'law firms that issue vexatious legal claims against the armed forces' and strengthen legal services regulation.
  • Introduce better compensation for injured armed forces personnel and the families of those killed in combat.


  • Maintain the annual net migration of tens of thousands.
  • Ask the independent Migration Advisory Committee to make recommendations on a new visa system.
  • Maintain plans to drop corporation tax to 17% by 2020. 

Labour Party

The manifesto, For The Many Not The Few, was launched on Tuesday 16 May. It focuses on determining ‘the type of Brexit’ the country wants, and on making Britain fairer. 


  • Replace the Brexit White Paper with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union. 
  • Reject ‘no deal’ as a viable option and negotiate transitional arrangements to avoid a cliff-edge for the UK economy.

Access to justice 

  • Immediate reintroduction of legal aid for private family law matters in the courts.
  • Consider the recommendations of the Access to Justice Commission led by Lord Bach. 
  • Extend legal aid for the preparation of judicial review.
  • Abolish Employment Tribunal fees
  • Introduce a ratio between actual costs of running the courts and the fees charged. 
  • Introduction of no-fault divorce procedure.
  • Continue to extend the use of technology in our court service where it enhances access to justice, timely dispute resolution and efficient administration.

Rule of law

  • Retain the Human Rights Act.
  • Resist any Conservative proposals to abolish the right to seek legal redress against the MoD where compensation claims cannot be otherwise settled.


  • Ban zero-hours contracts.
  • Repeal the Trade Union Act and roll out sectoral collective bargaining.
  • Deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022.

Liberal Democratic Party

The Liberal Democrat manifesto, Change Britain’s Future, was launched on Wednesday 18 May. At the centre of it is a commitment for a second EU referendum once a new deal has been negotiated with the EU. There are also commitments to increase NHS and social care funding by £6bn, increase income and corporation tax, and £100bn in additional infrastructure investment.


  • Ensure that the UK retains international arrangements for jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judgments and for family cases under the EU Brussels I and Brussels II regulation and the Hague child abduction convention. 
  • Continue cross-border co-operation between security forces across Europe. 
  • Permit intercepts where justified and permit surveillance of those suspected of serious crime and terrorism with proper judicial oversight. 

Access to justice

  • Conduct an urgent and comprehensive review of the effects of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act on access to justice.
  • Review the investigation, prosecution, procedures and rules of evidence in cases of sexual and domestic violence. 
  • Reverse the massive increases in court and tribunal fees. 
  • Continue to modernise and simplify court procedures. 

Rule of law

  • Oppose any attempt to withdraw from the ECHR and abolish or water down the Human Rights Act. 
  • Extend requirements on companies to strengthen responsibility for supply chains, focus on good practice in tackling modern slavery, and implement the Ewins report recommendations on domestic workers.

Plaid Cymru

The manifesto, entitled Defending Wales, was launched on Tuesday 16 May. The document promises to ‘overcome threats and seize opportunities’ from Brexit and advocates a ‘free-trade shield’ for Wales. It also commits to create a Welsh legal system that reflects the needs of Wales. 


  • Protect 200,000 jobs by ensuring that Wales can continue to buy and sell to Europe without any costly trading barriers.
  • Fight to get the best possible Brexit deal for Welsh industry and agriculture.
  • Guarantee the rights of all Europeans currently living and working in Wales.

Access to justice 

  • Reverse cuts to legal aid.
  • Bring forward new laws to protect victims of crime such as rape and domestic abuse.

Rule of law

  • Publish a human rights charter to defend Welsh people against the repeal of the Human Rights Act.

The public affairs team will continue to monitor any developments ahead of the General Election on 8th June. 

Tags: Westminster weekly update | European Union | human rights | Conservatives | Labour | Liberal Democrats

About the author

Alexandra Cardenas is Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the Law Society. Public Affairs manages the relationships with parliament and government. She is a dual qualified solicitor in England and Wales (2014), and Colombia (2002). Prior to the Society, she practised as a human rights lawyer and worked at Macmillan Cancer Support and Animal Defenders International.

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