Solicitors could face months of further uncertainty over fundamental reform of the practising environment following yesterday’s Brexit vote.
Root-and-branch personal injury reform and the future of legal regulation are among a string of planned consultations sitting in Michael Gove’s in-tray at the Ministry of Justice.
But with the Pro-Leave lord chancellor (pictured) predicted to be among contenders to be the Conservative party’s next leader (and therefore prime minister), these are likely to be further delayed - with critical policy decisions most probably taken by a successor. Gove has denied in the past that he wants the top job, but he is popular with Conservative members. He ranks third in the betting this morning, behind Boris Johnson and home secretary Theresa May.
Aside from the headline issue of a British Bill of Rights, the MoJ has also pledged to consult on clinical negligence fixed fees and an increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 and the right to recover damages for minor injuries. A government review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act is also pencilled in for late 2016/early 2017, with court and tribunals fees also under scrutiny.
There is speculation this morning that Gove will be moved to a new and probably more senior government position. Before the EU referendum, Gove was tipped to become deputy prime minister, though that was based on a scenario where the appointment followed a narrow victory for ‘Remain’, and a more central job for Gove would stabilise David Cameron’s cabinet. An extensive reshuffle, also predicted by some political commentators, could see him move straight to one of the ‘great offices of state’.
Appearing at a press conference held by the official Leave campaign this morning, Gove called for a ‘calm’ and ‘consensual’ approach to the coming months that allowed a focus on ‘prosperity’.