Courts should be less intimidating and confusing for non-lawyers, the Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties has claimed.
Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes, who was only appointed in December , told The Guardian that he was keen to make courtrooms less “alien” and more “user-friendly” for anyone entering one for the first time. He wanted to ensure they were not “disadvantaged because they are lay people”.
The Minister said:
“I want our courts to be places where everyone feels they … can get justice. People need to own the courts as places that are on the side of people as well as the justice system.”
In the absence of any available new funding, Hughes hopes to recruit magistrates or volunteers to help welcome people when they arrive for an appearance in court.
The Minister also plans to discuss family court issues directly with Family Division President Sir James Munby, the paper reports.
“I’m hopeful by the end of this parliament we will have a feeling that [courtrooms] are very much accessible to people as well as for justice. Making the courts … user-friendly is something we can deliver without any extra public [spending].”
The Liberal Democrat MP also addressed mediation as a government-endorsed alternative to court proceedings for family disputes.
“Mediation works. We are committed to making sure that more people make use of it rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of going to court.”