It has been interesting to hear Michael Gove’s sincere intentions for the judicial system. There is obviously much that can be done over the coming years to streamline criminal justice.
In family law, likewise, economies can be made by amalgamating courts within urban areas, streamlining early hearings and managing more on the internet.
In the end, though, the system can only operate with personnel committed to making it all work.
But morale among court staff and the lower judiciary is at an all-time low, with retirements of experienced staff proliferating.
Those remaining need encouragement that pressures on them will not increase, and that they can rely on sensible additions to their numbers before the situation becomes desperate.
It is finally accepted that access to legal aid is now denied to 600,000 members of the public who previously had access. It is simplistic in the extreme to expect major firms to bridge the gap with pro bono work.
None of the lesser fry – those hard-working lawyers at the coal face – can afford this luxury. They are trying to earn a living.
Taking legal aid away has led to thousands of litigants in person crowding the courts and driving judges to distraction. These litigants need help, advice and above all guidance. It comes cheap enough in the scheme of things.
Do we want a legal system that supports the many or the few? It is a simple choice. Restore legal aid at least for children cases, and that will fill an enormous gap. Adult litigants can cope.
Restore staff to the courts. In many of them a judge will make a seven-day order today which will not reach the parties for over three weeks. This makes a complete farce of the law.
John Greenwood, retired family lawyer and recorder, Chippenham, Wilts