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Mon, 20 May 2024

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Bar Council reacts to courts and justice announcements

Bar Council

2 min read Partner content

Today the Bar Council has reacted to both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announcement on Nightingale courts and the speech by Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Steven Reed MP outlining his party’s proposals and priorities for the justice sector.

The MoJ has announced 24 Nightingale Courts across England and Wales are being kept open for another year and that the Crown Court backlog is currently reducing each month. The number of cases in the backlog fell by almost 800 cases in the last 2 months of 2022.

Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar, said: “The Bar Council is pleased that Nightingale courts will continue hearing cases. This will help to maintain existing capacity levels. The large backlogs in court cases existed before the covid pandemic and tackling it requires increased investment and increased capacity. We also want to see progress made on the Criminal Legal Aid Advisory Board including, as a matter of urgency, the appointment of a Chair. CLARB provides an opportunity to ensure that the schemes for remuneration of publicly funded criminal work align properly with the aims of Better Case Management.”  

In Steve Reed MP’s speech today at Middle Temple he announced a series of proposals which would affect barristers and the justice sector. The Bar Council will continue to engage with politicians of all parties to formulate and develop policies that help improve the justice system in England and Wales.

Nick Vineall KC, Chair of the Bar, said: “We welcome the views of all those who recognise the importance of the legal services sector and its contribution to maintaining access to justice and the rule of law. It is critical for the rule of law to maintain a strong and diverse profession of independent advocates.

“English law is the best in the world and the legal sector is a huge contributor to our economy. But this pre-eminent position is endangered if those looking from abroad see crumbling courts, shortages of judges, long waits for hearing dates and huge backlogs of cases waiting to be heard. Starving the system of resources is grossly unfair to those who look to the courts for swift resolution of their disputes.  

“The Shadow Lord Chancellor has today made proposals for the civil justice system, the introduction of community and rape courts, and further technological reform. These are interesting proposals, and we look forward to considering them in detail. The Bar Council is able to draw on the first-hand knowledge and expertise of specialist barristers and I look forward to further discussions on all of these topics.”

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