The legal profession’s representative bodies have invited the public to explore and debate the disruption that Covid-19 has meant for rights and freedoms for Justice Week, which begins today.
Justice Week, now in its third year, is an initiative set up by the Law Society, Bar Council and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives to build public support for the rule of law.
With this year’s events having to take place remotely due the pandemic, the trio said: ‘No single occurrence in recent history has had as pervasive, immediate and indelible effect on all our lives, our communities and our institutions as the Covid-19 pandemic. This is as true of our laws and our justice system as it is of other essential public services.
‘Our most vulnerable citizens, from those at risk of domestic violence to people living in care homes, have struggled to access justice when they have needed it the most. Our courts and tribunals have had to embrace the world of remote hearings almost overnight, and it is not clear if and when normality will return. Our freedoms have been limited and policed in new and at times controversial ways.
‘We invite the public to join legal and rights experts to explore and debate what the disruption of the last year has meant for civil liberties, access to legal advice or the way parliament and government can make and enforce laws in unprecedented times.’
This week’s events will include publication of a major new piece of opinion research to establish how high justice issues are on the public agenda. An expert panel will discuss bringing the Mental Health Act into the 21st century. Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption will take part in a ‘Justice Week Question Time’ event. The Big Legal Lesson, by Young Citizens and Allen & Overy, aims to boost young people’s support and understanding of the fundamentals of the justice system. A Justice Week photo exhibition will focus on the impact of the pandemic on young people. The Access to Justice Foundation is asking lawyers to challenge themselves and ‘Go The Extra Mile for Justice’.