Our new Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove will give his first major speech today since taking over from our dearly departed Mr Grayling.
We are told that he will say that our justice system is failing ordinary people whilst looking after the rich.
You can imagine my excitement on reading some of his comments –
“While those with money can secure the finest legal provision in the world, the reality in our courts for many of our citizens is that the justice system is failing them. Badly.”
“There are two nations in our justice system at present. On the one hand, the wealthy, international class who can choose to settle cases in London with the gold standard of British justice. And then everyone else, who has to put up with a creaking, outdated system to see justice done in their own lives.”
Has he been reading this blog for the last three years.
Sadly the content is less exciting.
He does not mention the real injustices of our system such as –
The further cuts in fees to those who represent those charged with criminal offences.
The virtual elimination of civil legal aid since April 2013
Courts grinding to a halt as they try to cope with unrepresented litigants
£10,000.00 to issue a Claim Form for a severely injured victim
And so we could go on.
Mr Gove’s first priority seems to be improving technology – ‘to ensure that cases are dealt with efficiently, speedily and above all justly’
I’m afraid this a bit like tidying the deckchairs on the Titanic. But who knows? It could be a start. At least he seems to acknowledge that all is not well with our justice system. He even acknowledges that those with money get a better deal than anyone else.
The hope is that he will be less confrontational with the profession than his predecessor. Although my teacher friends wept with me when they learned that he was to take over at the helm!
Mr Gove has now delivered his maiden speech. It was much a trailed above. He has thrown in one old chestnut, suggesting that lawyers should provide more pro bono advice –
‘When it comes to investing in access to justice then it is clear to me that it is fairer to ask our most successful legal professionals to contribute a little more rather than taking more in tax from someone on the minimum wage’
How much more would he like? Lawyers do huge amounts of free work from giving diagnostic advice, manning surgeries at advice centres, drafting letters etc. Does he seriously think that that well meaning free work can come close to filling the chasm left by the legal aid cuts? He was extremely unpopular with teachers but I don't ever recall him suggesting that they work for nothing.
Why does he choose to mention taking more in tax from someone on the lowest possible pay? Do they have to carry the burden of funding justice?
I’m afraid any glimmers of hope have now faded…