Economic reality can necessitate ‘profoundly unwelcome’ changes to the legal system, the embattled lord chancellor Chris Grayling told a global audience of lawyers this morning, in a clear reference to the storm over his domestic reforms. 

In his opening address to the Global Law Summit, Chris Grayling said legal systems must innovate ‘to continue with the pace around us, but remain firmly rooted in the principles of Magna Carta that have served us well to date’.

As he received notice of the latest court challenge to his reforms, he said: ‘It is clear to me looking back at history that no change is seldom an option,’ he warned. Challenges, he said, could be driven by conflict and economic reality – ‘when [change] can be profoundly unwelcome’.

Grayling urged delegates to embrace the summit as an opportunity to debate and help shape the future of the law.

In its statement on the opening of the summit, the Law Society called on the government to uphold the principles of Magna Carta.

It said: 'The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta brings an international audience together to discuss issues of access to justice and the rule of law at the Global Law Summit. It is important to celebrate and promote the UK’s reputation as the home of Magna Carta and a global leader in professional legal services, but we must also uphold the principles that were enshrined 800 years ago.

'The Law Society has grave concerns at the way that access to justice in both criminal and civil cases is being hindered and diminished by reductions in and removal of legal aid and sharp increases in court fees. We will continue to fight to protect the rights of our citizens and access to justice for the most vulnerable in society.'