Unacceptable delays will continue without urgent funding

Sustained and significant investment is needed across the crisis-hit justice system or unacceptable delays will continue, the Law Society of England and Wales warned before giving evidence to the House of Commons Justice Committee.

The Justice Committee published today (27 April) its report on the capacity of the courts.

“This report highlights the disgraceful state of our justice system,” said Law Society President I. Stephanie Boyce.

“Decades of underfunding and cuts mean there simply aren’t enough judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and court staff to cover the huge backlog of cases.

“Victims and defendants continue to experience unacceptable delays. A traumatized victim may wait years to see their abuser locked up, while others completely lose faith in the justice system. An innocent defendant may find his life in limbo waiting to clear his name.

“It’s not just the criminal courts that are suffering from backlogs and delays, and we support the committee’s call for a specific action plan to ensure adequate capacity in family courts.

“Sustained and significant investments are needed throughout the justice system. We have long warned of the collapse of the court system and welcome the committee’s recognition of the urgent need to ensure that the courts are fit for purpose.

“We also agree with the need to ensure better data collection to inform decision-making.

“A court inspection could help highlight and prioritize problems in the justice system, and we look forward to discussing with the Department of Justice how such a body might operate.”

I. Stephanie Boyce will give evidence to the Justice Committee on the UK Government’s legal aid reform proposals later today.

“The urgent fee increase of a minimum of 15% identified in the Independent Criminal Legal Aid Review must be imminent, rather than the woefully inadequate 9% increase proposed by the government,” she said. added.

“Otherwise we will see more lawyers leaving the profession and more firms closing, which means there will be fewer practitioners to handle cases. This will lead to longer delays and is in no one’s interest.

“By properly funding legal aid, we can address the backlog and ensure that justice is accessible to all in a timely manner.”

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body working globally to support and represent lawyers, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100