Bach Commission offers food for thought to improve access to justice

Bach Commission offers food for thought to improve access to justice

25 September 2017 

The Bach Commission has published its final report, recommending a statutory right to justice, reforms to legal aid, and better public legal education.

The Commission, chaired by Lord Willy Bach and including past CILEx president Nick Hanning FCILEx, made its recommendations after receiving evidence from various organisations, including CILEx.

The final report follows on from the UK Supreme Court’s judgment on Employment Tribunal Fees, and David Lammy’s review into the experience of people from BAME backgrounds in the Criminal Justice system, and, although not all our recommendations feature, makes a welcome addition to the discussion about the importance of access to justice in our society today.

CILEx President, Millicent Grant, said: “For some years now we have seen access to justice and the rule of law deprioritised in the public discourse. We see this in the removal of whole areas of law from the scope of legal aid, in the increasing cost of using the courts system, and in the reduction in publicly funded sources of free legal support.

“In this light, it is refreshing to read the Bach Commission’s final report, showing the ambitious thinking needed to halt the decline in access to justice, and putting forward proposals to turn the situation around. We hope that the Commission’s recommendations will be carefully considered by all parties.

“The report is right to highlight the issues surrounding trust in our justice system, and the important part that a diverse profession and judiciary has to play in building and maintaining that trust. CILEx is one of the most diverse legal professions, with three-quarters of our lawyers being women and one third of our new students being from BAME backgrounds. That is why we recently renewed our call for the removal of the glass ceiling that prevents experienced Chartered Legal Executive lawyers applying for senior judicial roles. This report adds yet further reason to see this outdated oversight rectified.

“Furthermore, Chartered Legal Executives are specialist lawyers who can set up and run their own businesses delivering the full range of legal services. They make an important contribution to a diverse legal market, and a well-functioning market of independent legal service providers is essential to achieving meaningful access to justice. CILEx lawyers undoubtedly have a role to play in an enhanced legal aid market that values small and specialist providers, as well as generalists.”