The Chairman of the Bar has responded to the Queen’s Speech, delivered today.
Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: “Today’s Queen’s Speech, delivered against the backdrop of continued economic austerity, highlighted the Government’s drive to cut public expenditure further and to reform public services. It is vital that access to justice does not become a casualty of the Government’s efforts to reduce the deficit and introduce reforms to the court service.
“The Bar Council supports the Government commitment to modernise our Courts and Tribunals, for which £700 million has been budgeted. We will continue to be constructively engaged in the court reform programme, which needs to be properly resourced and effectively managed.
“We remain concerned about the on-going effects of cuts to legal aid and increases in court and tribunal fees, with the result that many people are unable in practice to access the justice system in order to vindicate their legal rights and duties.
“We shall continue to press for measures to mitigate delays caused by the increase in litigants in person, to reduce delays in the courts, to lessen the impact of enhanced court and tribunal fees, and to promote more effective ways of working which can be provided increasingly by IT in appropriate cases.
“The Bar Council will take a close interest in the Government’s proposals for a British Bill of Rights. This measure could have significant implications for our constitutional arrangements and fundamental rights. It is essential that any proposals for new legislation in this area do not derogate from the rights and freedoms we enjoy under existing law.”