Lord Thomas: people must be able to access justice without lawyers

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales has said people must be able to access justice without having to instruct lawyers.

Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd made the comments in New Zealand, one of the jurisdictions he is visiting on his Magna Carta tour.

He cited reports from the Civil Justice Council and the campaign group Justice which point to changes in the provision of legal services, warning that “rather than concluding that lawyers are unnecessary, the reports recognise the reality that lawyers are too expensive for many people, notwithstanding attempts to open up the legal services marketplace”.

He added: “The justice system therefore needs to adapt to make sure that people can still access it without lawyers by a process designed to work without lawyers.”

Lord Thomas also said: “We have to recognise that securing access to justice can be achieved in many cases at much lower cost by using others who know the law and can apply it well.”

Lord Thomas concluded: “It is therefore necessary to re-cast our justice system to equip it for the present, and to future-proof it so far as possible. Stabilising its financing, making effective use of its buildings, allocating work appropriately, and exploiting the advantages that technology and digitisation can bring are the only way to do this. To do this will be to ensure access to justice in the 21st Century and to safeguard one of the principal legacies of Magna Carta for now and for the future.”

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