The chair-elect of the Bar Council has said modernising courts and creating more digital services is only half the battle in delivering an adequate justice system.
In a blog post reviewing this year's Conservative and Labour party conferences, criminal silk Andrew Langdon QC says that although the representative body supports ‘modernisation’ the government needs to ‘re-invest in other aspects of infrastructure’ which it says without reform will fail to deliver justice regardless of what advances are made in technology.
Langdon said that during the conferences the council ‘continually pressed’ for an abolition or reduction in court fees and a meaningful review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which it said was ‘widely accepted by all parties to have brought about unacceptable consequences’.
Langdon said there should be rapid progress on efforts to bring about a new Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme scheme to replace the ‘discredited’ current scheme.
Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, chairman of the bar, has previously expressed concern about online courts when related to civil money claims and said it could create a ‘two-tier justice system’.
Langdon said the council met justice minister Oliver Heald, attorney general Jeremy Wright and solicitor general Robert Buckland at the Conservative party conference and shadow lord chancellor Richard Burgon at the Labour conference.
‘There is always room for cynicism, but that should not and does not prevent us from making our case to those in a position to do something about it,’ Langdon said.
He added that it was important to work with the Law Society to try and provide a fair and full representation of the interests of each branch of the profession. ‘It is perfectly obvious that we benefit from close cooperation, and that cooperation was exemplified by joint efforts at a number of the key fringe events to explain the reality of the work we do, and of the work we want to do, in the public interest,’ he said.
He added: ‘The key people in each party have heard what we have to say. We need, relentlessly if necessary, to continue to make the case.’