I too heard (and winced) when a BBC reporter described the installation of a new secretary of state for justice as forming part of a reshuffle of ‘middle-ranking’ positions (leader, 15 January). What was once regarded as one of the great offices of state is now apparently viewed as no more important than the transport brief.
For there to be any hope of restoration, it would help if Lord Falconer were to acknowledge that, with the benefit of 13 years’ hindsight, he got it wrong. This would pave the way for much-needed reform and, with a lawyer at the helm, who better to instigate the process? David Gauke would be doing a great service to the country in restoring stability, continuity and expertise to the office of lord chancellor, if he were to accept the challenge. I can think of no better way to protect the rule of law and judicial independence.
Separately, I look forward to seeing how Mr Gauke will reconcile his responsibility to uphold the rule of law, which necessarily inheres enabling access to justice, when it comes to the proposed reforms to civil justice impacting upon low-value personal injury claims. As a former City lawyer, he will know that insurers are sophisticated litigators with abundant resources. Changing the rules so that accident victims must go up against them unrepresented is inconsistent with the principle of equality of arms, and is a step too far towards meeting the legitimate aim of stamping out fraudulent claims.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has proposed a ban on cold calling. That seems like a sensible and proportionate place to start.
Richard D Edwards, Solicitor-advocate, Potter Rees Dolan Serious Injury Solicitors, Manchester