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Lord Chancellor outlines justice system recovery plans

Speech at the Law Society

15 June 2021
Lord Chancellor outlines justice system recovery plans

In a speech given at the Law Society on 4 June, The Lord Chancellor, The Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP, has thanked the hidden heroes who have kept the justice system functioning during the Covid-19 pandemic, and outlined his plans for the system’s recovery.

He spoke about some of the measures taken to tackle the pandemic, including:

  • Safety measures in court
  • 1,600 extra court staff
  • 60 new Nightingale Court Rooms
  • Technology roll out
  • Making it easier for criminal lawyers to apply for hardship payments
  • Speeding up payments for civil cases
  • Pausing repayments for outstanding debts owed to the Legal Aid Agency
  • £5.4 million of emergency funding nvested in not-for-profit providers of specialist legal advice

He added that he is ‘quite frankly prepared to do everything within [his] power’ to enable courts to hear cases more quickly, and announced that a ‘Super Courtroom’ will open in Loughborough by September in addition to the one in Manchester, and that crown courts will not have maximum sitting days for at least the next year.

The speech also made special reference to victims of crime and the impact of the pandemic and court delays on them. He referred to the £51 million investment in services that support rape and domestic abuse victims, the Domestic Abuse Act and the revised Victims’ Code. He added that a Victims’ Law will soon be consulted on, the Rape Review report would soon be published and that later this year there will be a new strategy for tackling violence against women and girls.

The Lord Chancellor said that the pandemic has cemented the need for remote participation in hearings to be available to deliver a service that is more accessible for everybody, one that is a ‘bolder, more ambitious and frankly more modern’. He added that he wants to ‘re-define the nature of dispute resolution’, moving away from litigation and towards mediation and conciliation being the default. He emphasised the importance of learning from the last fifteen months and taking is as an ‘opportunity to revitalize justice and to re-examine how it operates in the modern context’.

The full speech can be read here.

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