Lord chancellor Michael Gove will tomorrow signal the urgent reform of a ‘creaking, outdated’ justice system that is failing the most vulnerable members of society.
The justice secretary is set to give his first speech since taking on the job and will set out what a ‘one nation’ justice policy will look like.
Gove is expected to say that the justice system is divided into a wealthy, international class who can choose to settle cases in London and another section of society consisting of victims and witnesses currently being ‘let down badly’ by the system.
The lord chancellor is expected to call for reforms to overhaul the courts, based on recommendations put forward earlier this year by Sir Brian Leveson, to be implemented ‘with all speed’.
Gove will cite rape victims waiting two years for their case to be heard, judges questioning advocates about basic procedural preliminaries and cases derailed by the late arrival of prisoners, broken video links or missing paperwork as examples of the problems he has seen in criminal courts.
‘The waste and inefficiency inherent in such a system are obvious,’ he will say.
‘But perhaps even more unforgivable is the human cost. It is the poorest in our society who are disproportionately the victims of crime, and who find themselves at the mercy of this creaking and dysfunctional system.’
Leveson called in January for more use of technology to allow remote hearings, tighter case management by judges and flexible opening hours in England and Wales courts.
Gove will give his support to prosecutions to be brought more efficiently, with unnecessary procedures ‘stripped out’ and information exchanged by email or conference call rather than in hearings.
‘Then we can make sure that more time can be spent on ensuring the court hears high-quality advocacy rather than excuses for failure,’ he will say.
Gove will also stress his backing for the rule of law as the ‘most precious asset of any civilised society’ that can place checks on abuse of power, safeguard private property, protect family life from aggressions and underpin free speech.