In this video I set out my thoughts on a speech given last Saturday to the annual Bar Conference by Lord Justice Ryder, himself once a high-flying barrister.
Entitled Raising the Bar: Innovation and global opportunity for a forward thinking profession, it set out the ways in which His Lordship sees the future of British justice. As a family lawyer, what I hear in his erudite speech is a great deal of emphasis on dispute resolution, an emphasis with all the focus on the legal process rather legally fair outcomes.
He spoke of travelling courts, an idea which will surely leave large areas of the country without convenient access to nearby court. Last week the government announced a timetable for the alarming court closures announced in February. Of course, these have already begun and are continuing in full force. We have already reached the third batch of closures, as ‘tranche’ as governments like to dub these. Next year we’ll see tranches four, five and six as a courtrooms across the whole of the country on this hit list close their doors and shutter their windows.
I worry too about the practicalities of the online court system mentioned by his Lordship. And there is no properly established and tested online system in place anyway. Despite this the government has pressed on with this huge closure programme. We are taking away access and not replacing it. Sir Ernest declared in his speech that “austerity…is not the driver of reform”. But if it is not austerity then just what is it?
Click ‘play’ to hear what I have to say.
And you can read Lord Justice Ryder’s speech here.