Today marks thirty years since I started work at Edward Fail, Bradshaw & Waterson Solicitors as a trainee solicitor. My training principal was John Lafferty, who ran the firm for many years before becoming a Crown Court Judge at...
Jeremy Corbyn wasn't everyone's choice of leader, but the sheer size of his victory clearly demonstrates the level of support he enjoys.
Whether you voted or not, whether you welcome his election or not, one thing is for sure, he is a non-lawyer who is and always has been fully engaged in Justice Issues.
On 22nd May 2013 he spoke at the rally before the famous Friends meeting house event, he spoke at the first ever Justice Alliance rally and he was a fastidious critic of government policy as part of the all-party group on legal aid. He maintained that The Government were wrong to demonise hard working and dedicated lawyers as part of its attempt to dismantle and discredit this vital pillar of the welfare state that was created with the intention to enable equal access to justice regardless of means.
Whatever it is you may not like about the new leader of Her Majesty's opposition, (and although politics should never be about single issues), he gives a damn about justice.
I didn't vote for him but I recognise that he has brought a renewed political energy. Hours after his election as the leader he emailed the party membership inviting those he represents to provide instructions for PMQs. I have drafted a series of questions which I would invite him to pose to Mr Cameron given that we have a leader who is well briefed with justice close to his heart.
Here is what I would instruct him to ask the Right Hon David Cameron MP:
- With scores of magistrates resigning and the judiciary ignoring the punitive court charge, which financially penalises those who seek to clear their name, can the government afford to continue to place the courts in this legislative straight jacket?
- Why do the government continue to attack our legal aid system in the name of austerity without any proper review of the effects of those cuts, in particular, the knock-on costs in other areas of the Public Sector?
- In whose interests is it to pursue a mechanism whereby over 1100 of the current providers of criminal legal aid will be forced to close down, causing not only financial ruin for those firms but substantially removing client choice and therefore access to justice?
- The Lord Chancellor's publicly stated position is to move away from a two-tier justice system, yet his actions exacerbate such a gulf, how do the government intend to bridge such a gap?
- Why has the government failed to learn the lessons of the disastrous cuts to civil legal aid?
- Why have the government chosen to ignore the warnings of its own economic experts as to the viability of a scheme that carries so much social and economic cost?
- The government welcome the Leveson reforms, and intend to implement the same, how can they work if there are no quality firms and experienced lawyers available to implement them?
- What provision has the government in place in the event of the market collapsing?
- Why don't the government prioritise quality over market forces in situations whereupon an individual's Liberty and character, and therefore future prospects are at stake? Is justice that cheap?
- How can the government justify an expensive and anti-competitive recruitment process for its own PDS when private practices will close as a result of these reforms?
- What is the cost of firm closure and if the market is being artificially controlled, what financial and practical assistance are the government going to give those firms forced to close as a result of the reforms?