The snap election has politicians in a frenzy running around making promises and dodging difficult questions. But how might the election affect the civil courts?
Labour – Access to Justice?
The leaked Labour manifesto raised a number of potential reforms to the civil courts including:
- Reviewing the current scheme for court fees.
- Abolishing Employment tribunal fees.
- Re-introducing legal aid for family and judicial review cases.
- Introducing a no fault, streamlined divorce system.
Most of these proposals will be popular with court users but polls suggest the prospects of a Labour victory are slim. Access to justice is a core theme.
Conservatives – More of the Same?
The Conservatives have kept their cards to their chests so far but there have been calls from the Bar (the barristers) to put in place a Justice Minister with legal experience. The Conservatives have appointed a series of Justice Ministers who do not have experience of legal practice and they have been criticised for a number of unpopular changes and decisions.
Liz Truss has been under criticism from the Bar for her failure to respond to negative press about Judges, in particular when the Daily Mail ran with a headline of “Enemies of the People” in relation to Brexit. Judges entertaining the Brexit ruling and procedure was reported by some newspapers as Judges seeking to stop the will of the people. However, they were only applying the law in place and subsequently parliament had to put legislation in place to allow the mechanics for Brexit to start. But the Daily Mail saw an opportunity for an attention grabbing headline and ran with it.
Continued reform of IT systems and online courts may feature greatly.
It will only be when the dust has settled on the election results that the actual reforms will become clearer.