I am delighted to be chairing a distinguished Question Time panel: Sir William Blair, formerly Judge in Charge of the Commercial Court until October 2017; Mr Justice Knowles CBE, Judge of the High Court; James Libson, Partner, Head of Private, Mishcon de Reya; Corey Stoughton, Advocacy Director, Liberty.
As part of Legal Week CONNECT London, this special legal Question Time will be held at The IET, Savoy Place on November 29th 2017.
The reputation of English law does much to underpin commercial confidence in the United Kingdom, providing legal certainty and helping to make London the world’s largest centre for settling international disputes. Law firms certainly feel the benefit. Since 2007, total revenue at the top 200 UK firms has risen by 73% from £13.5bn to £23.5bn. By contrast, the legal aid budget has fallen by 36% from £2.5bn to £1.6bn over the same period.
Beyond Brexit, maintaining access to justice is paramount. But the emergence of a two-tier system potentially undermines the UK’s longstanding reputation for fairness in our courts and from our judges. At its heart, that reputation is built on how even-handedly we look after litigants and defendants: be they poor and vulnerable or rich and powerful, all are equal before the law.
The current situation has provoked sustained criticism from solicitors and barristers. Senior judges have also made their voices heard, portraying the most recent cuts in strong language: the new President of the Supreme Court, Lady Justice Hale, described them as probably “a false economy”; Lady Justice Hallett, a senior Court of Appeal judge, said they had created a “huge burden” on judges, lawyers and litigants; while Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, called them “shaming”.
In a one-hour legal Question Time special, a distinguished panel will be examining this and other important topics affecting all sides of the legal profession.