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Tag Archive | "coalition"

The Lord Chancellor

When appointing a Lord Chancellor what was once rare is now almost routine.

The Coalition government in 2010 appointed Chris Grayling to the post, which is also that of Secretary of State for Justice. He was the first non lawyer to be given the job since the middle ages. It showed.

In the reshuffle following the 2015 election Michael Gove got the job. He also is not legally qualified. He made a promising start, clearing up some of the mess left by Grayling, and promising reforms. He became one of the more sensational casualties of the post referendum chaos as he was cast into the political wilderness.

Now Liz Truss has got the job. Also not legally qualified, she is the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role. 41 today, she has been MP for South West Norfolk since 2010. Rapid promotion saw her appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare. She became a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2014. On 14 July 2016 she was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to George Monbiot in the ‘Guardian’, interviewers have said that she is “indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts.”

She set courts reform as one of her top priorities during the traditional swearing-in ceremony. She also stressed she was a great supporter of reform and modernisation through the courts and tribunals system. “That urgent task will be high on my agenda in the months ahead, as I know it is for senior members of the judiciary,” she added.

Her appointment has not met with a uniform welcome. As one disgruntled contributor to the ‘Gazette’ plaintively wrote “Why do the Tories persistently want to pee off the profession by making non lawyers Lord or Lady Chancellors. It is frankly insulting.” More officially, the Tory chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, has become the latest senior political figure to question her credentials.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, he said “My concern is this: while it’s not necessary for the lord chancellor to have a legal background, they have a specific role under the Constitutional Reform Act to represent the interests of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary, including its independence within government.

“It helps if the person in charge has been a lawyer or has been a senior member of the cabinet. I have a concern, with no disrespect to Liz, that it would be hard for someone without that history to step straight in and fulfil that role.”

Neill’s comments follow a claim by former shadow lord chancellor Lord Falconer that prime minister Theresa May broke the law in appointing Truss. Writing in the ‘Times’, Falconer said: “The lord chancellor has to be someone with the weight and stature to stand up to the prime minister or the home secretary when, for instance, they want to compromise on complying with the law in an attempt to placate the public. Or when the politicians are determined to blame the judges when their policies go wrong.”

Lord Faulks said last week that he resigned as Lords justice spokesman over fears that Truss would not have the necessary leverage to challenge the prime minister over crucial issues such as judicial independence.

Posted in Civil Law, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

Unnecessary legislation

Unnecessary legislation

One of the commitments in the Coalition Agreement was the repeal of unnecessary or outdated legislation. The government is now consulting on a bill to implement this commitment.

The Ministry of Justice is collating suggestions for repeal based on the following criteria: Read the full story

Posted in Law UpdatesComments (0)

U-turn on rape charge anonymity?

One of the more surprising pledges in the Coalition programme for government was to extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants. Such a move would turn the clock back to 1976, when the Sexual Offences Act introduced anonymity for those accused of rape. That provision was repealed in 1988. Shortly after Read the full story

Posted in Case Law, Criminal Justice, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Legal Aid Review

The Government has wasted no time in pursuing its aim to review the legal aid system as promised in the Coalition programme for government published in May.

In a written ministerial statement to Parliament on 23 June, Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke set out the background of the Government’s immediate priority to reduce Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Law Updates, Legal AidComments (0)

Coalition update

Blog “Civil liberties and the coalition government“, posted last Monday, dealt with the initial Tory and Liberal coalition agreement. It was to be followed in due course by a final and fully comprehensive agreement, and now, surprisingly early, comes that agreement. It is a schedule of over 400 objectives Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Law UpdatesComments (0)

Civil liberties and the coalition government

Party manifestos are really little more than wish lists. But the unprecedented Tory and Liberal coalition agreement, produced at breakneck speed, and to be followed in due course by a final and fully comprehensive agreement, is something else. It is little short of a Queen’s speech for a whole parliament. Section 10 of the agreement is about civil liberties. The preamble states: Read the full story

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law UpdatesComments (0)

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