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Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor address the judiciary in Mansion House speeches

18 August 2020
Lord Chief Justice and Lord Chancellor address the judiciary in Mansion House speeches

In a speech broadcast from Mansion House on 28 July the Lord Chief Justice, the Rt Hon. Lord Burnett, paid tribute to the judiciary, court staff and the legal profession for keeping ‘the wheels of justice turning’ through the current coronavirus pandemic. He described himself as ‘encouraged’ that recent public debate has ‘drawn out the importance of timely justice for society’ and praised the ‘commitment and creativity’ of the justice system in adapting to current circumstances.

In discussing the challenges faced by the court system and the backlog of cases, the Lord Chief Justice made special mention of the magistrates’ courts which are ‘fast returning toward pre-Covid volumes of work’ and praised the ‘enthusiasm’ demonstrated by magistrates not only in returning to normal sitting but also in support of taking on additional hearings to enable the backlog to be cleared.

In terms of innovation, he welcomed the use of technology and remote hearings ‘when that is appropriate’ and added that the government must make the resources available for the courts to provide timely justice. He spoke of the growing understanding of the requirements for remote attendance and added that there will be ‘a constant evaluation’ of remote hearings so that the justice system can learn what works and what does not.

The Lord Chancellor, the Rt Hon. Robert Buckland, said that he believed that ‘the time is now right’ to review the mandatory retirement age of judicial office holders, including magistrates, to ‘ensure that we do not lose excellent judges unnecessarily’ and described himself as ‘particularly pleased’ to launch the consultation. He added that it was essential to also recruit new magistrates from ‘all walks of life’.

You can watch the address here or read the transcript for the Lord Chief Justice’s speech here.

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