Cuts to the courts service make it less likely that justice will be served

first_imgThe Civil Justice Council’s working party on litigants in person will send a report to the justice secretary by the end of this month, outlining ways that unrepresented litigants’ access to justice could be improved. As government policy on civil justice and legal aid will, by its own admission, produce many more litigants in person, this is an issue of central importance. And, as we report today, the number already appears to be rising – in some courts quite dramatically. The CJC working party lists among its members well-respected supporters of social welfare law and noted opponents of the government’s legal reform agenda. It would be quite wrong to prejudge their report. But what is clear already is that, where the government seeks to take up any meritorious proposals, it will be grafting them on to a court system already struggling to cope. Entire layers of experienced middle management have been effectively removed from our courts; positions have been downgraded and individual workloads increased. Some courts are opening for fewer hours. The risk is that Ministry of Justice cuts have so eroded the capacity and operational integrity of the courts, that even measures intended to save further public funds cannot be adequately executed. Justice may or may not be served when there are far more litigants in person. But cuts to the courts service make it more likely that it will not.last_img