If the centre cannot hold, ‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’.
We do not know if Jeremy Wright (pictured) is a fan of Yeats, but the AG’s speech insisting there are ‘constitutional’ and ‘practical’ reasons why he, and not the courts, could be best placed to determine the public interest adds to the sense of a justice system that is being degraded at its core.
That public funding cuts are a major cause is obvious. But the corrosion is more insidious. Consider the opinion of the home secretary that legal privilege is abused by ‘naughty’ lawyers; or the seemingly unshakeable conviction that restitution for legitimate civil claimants must be further impeded.
We see a spectre, lurking in the review of legal regulation, of the profession becoming a client of the state. And there is already turmoil at the profession’s base, as aspiring lawyers contemplate unknowable career prospects via an uncertain entry-point that they reach by acquiring eye-watering amounts of debt.
Responses to the loss of old certainties include many eyecatching initiatives, ranging from crowd-funding, online tools, and even a ‘nursery’ firm run by trainees. But we don’t yet know the sum of the parts.
Meanwhile, the impression that our nation’s commitment to the rule of law and access to justice is going through an indeterminate phase of managed decline is difficult to shake.