The Ministry of Justice is calling for evidence on the Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union, specifically relating to fundamental rights. The consultation document is here and main website here.
The deadline for responses is 13 January 2014, but if you want to take part in one of the four discussion groups (three in London, one in Edinburgh), you need to email by tomorrow – all details below.
And don’t let the obscure-sounding title put you off. This review is potentially very important. Just look how broad question 1 is: Continue reading →
Updated | The legal community has been digesting yesterday’s announcement of government plans for legal aid to be reduced by around £350 per year from 2014-15.
Most commentators and legal professionals are worried that less money for legal representation will lead to less access to justice for the poorer members of society. But some have also expressed relief that the criminal legal aid scheme has been left largely untouched, as have funding for inquests, judicial reviews and asylum cases.
For those who have a view on the reforms, the Ministry of Justice has an online questionnaire which can be filled in here.
Nicholas Green QC (Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales: “A permanent contraction of justice cannot be justified by the “big society” or by any sort of philosophical mantra. Ultimately an efficient justice system is fundamental to the wellbeing of the country. We only have to look at our television screen at events unfolding in Burma and elsewhere to see the undeniable truth of that proposition.”
Updated | For those looking for clues as to how the Ministry of Justice will prioritise its funding after the impending 25% budget cut, it has just released its 2011-15 business plan.
The MoJ’s ‘vision’ is certainly ambitious. Despite the cuts, there will be “better law“. This will come from a programme of “fundamental reform” which will cure the problems of “too much litigation, too many people reoffending and too much money spent on systems”.
Under the heading “Coalition Priorities”, the MoJ provides its plans for structural reform. It is not clear whether these are in order of priority:
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is to cut £2bn from its £9bn or so budget. But where will this 20% cut come from?
Kenneth Clarke’s MoJ are said to have got in early in agreeing spending reduction targets with the Treasury, and yesterday it was reported by the Public and Commercial Services Union that senior staff were informed by email that the cuts will amount to around £2bn of the overall budget. The Union suspect that around 15,000 of the MoJ’s 80,000 staff may have to be axed.
However the MoJ makes the cuts, a reduction of around 20% is likely to have severe effects on access to and provision of justice in the United Kingdom. Various MoJ-funded bodies have already been lining up to explain why their departments could not survive on much less. The criminal legal aid system has long been said to be in crisis, the President of the Family Division indicated last week that the child protection system is in grave danger of imploding, and the Chief Executive of the Supreme Court has said the cuts could cripple the new court.
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