In the news
In his first major speech as Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove this week set out his vision for ‘one nation justice’. At present a two-tier system provides the “gold-standard” of British justice to the wealthy and a “creaking, outdated system to everyone else”. The emphasis was on making use of technological developments, closing under-used courts and requiring the “most successful in the legal profession” to help “protect access to justice for all”.
Commentators have welcomed the aim of reducing inequalities, but point to a problem largely neglected by Mr Gove: the chronic lack of resources in the public system. Robin Murray in the Justice Gap argues that legal aid cuts and the “inevitable destruction” of solicitors’ firms will undermine proposed efficiency reforms. Unable to sustain the “relentless financial struggle”, lawyers are being driven out of public-funded work, writes Sarah Forshaw QC. Technological advancement is important, but not enough – “the criminal justice system, however efficient, is only as good as the people in it.”
Moreover, the notion that the richest solicitors and barristers can be relied on to plug the justice gap is “surely unrealistic”, contends John Hyde in the Law Society Gazette. There is simply “neither the will nor – most importantly – the experience in the City to pick up the slack.”
Reducing the gap between the quality of legal services for commercial litigants and the worst off in society is “a laudable goal”, writes Rupert Myers for The Telegraph. It cannot, however, be achieved unless Gove can “persuade the government to pay for it.”
In other news
BBC: The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled by a 5-4 majority that state prohibitions on same-sex marriage violate the constitution. Strongly-worded dissenting opinions from Justice Scalia and Chief Justice Roberts make for an interesting read, and can be found here, but it is Justice Kennedy’s final paragraph that will find its way into most history books.
The Guardian: Solicitors and barristers in Merseyside have agreed to take direct action in response to announcements that legal aid fees are to be reduced by a further 8.75%.
The Royal College of Nursing has warned that new immigration rules will cause “chaos” in the health service. Under the new rules, non-EU workers earning less than £35,000 after six years in the UK will be deported. The Guardian reports.
Columbia University has launched an online global database of freedom of expression case law and court rulings. Inforrm Blog provides more information.
UK HRB posts
Supreme Court on EU and ECHR proportionality – back to basics – David Hart QC
The 50 human rights cases that transformed Britain – Adam Wagner
Justice Deferred: Transnational Lawyering and the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, 30 years on – Professor Upendra Baxi will revisit the legal aftermath of the disastrous accident in Bhopal, India. The public talk will take place on 6 July at King’s College, London. More details can be found here.
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